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Without explanation, Judge Leonie Brinkema allowed confessed Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to be present in the courtroom for Wednesday's jury selection, this after ordering him barred earlier in the week for disruptive behavior. The jurors impaneled in the Alexandria, Va., federal courtroom will decide whether he is to be executed or imprisoned for life. For him to receive the death penalty, prosecutors must prove Moussaoui was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Vice President Cheney issued a statement expressing his con cern and support for friend and hunting partner Harry Whittington, who is recovering from gunshot wounds accidentally inflicted by Cheney in Texas last weekend. A setback in Whittington's recovery means his hospital stay will be extended a week. With congressional Democrats calling for him to break his public silence and explain the mishap, Cheney was to appear on Fox News Wednesday afternoon, the White House said.

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Senate opponents of a $140 billion trust fund for the settlement of asbestos lawsuits handed the proposal a setback, but maybe only a temporary one. In a tightly contested procedural vote Tuesday, an industry-supported bill to create the fund was sent back to the Judiciary Committee in a move that some lawmakers believe dooms it. Opponents worry that the fund would be drained by claims against it, leaving taxpayers liable to pay those uncompensated for exposure to the fireretardant material. Lawsuits have reportedly bankrupted more than 70 asbestos makers.

California must change the way it administers lethal injections in order to carry out a Feb. 21 execution of convicted murderer Michael Morales, US District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled. The current method, he said, may constitute cruel and unusual punishment if the subject is not first unconscious.

In the latest sign of dissatisfaction with the AFL-CIO, the Laborers International Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers, with a combined 1 million members, will join four other unions to form the National Construction Alliance.

Cook County Jail guard Darin Gater was charged in Chicago with complicity in the escape of six inmates who've been recaptured. According to media accounts, he told investigators he aided the escape in order to influence an upcoming sheriff's election.


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