Jackie Kennedy’s intimate letters with UK diplomat go on sale

Letters written by Jackie Kennedy to a British diplomat rejecting his marriage proposal years after the assassination of her husband, US president John F. Kennedy, go under the hammer in London on Wednesday.

The correspondence between Kennedy and David Ormsby Gore, Britain's ambassador to the US during Kennedy's presidency, show her explaining her reasons for not wishing to wed the former diplomat.

"We have known so much & shared & lost so much together -- Even if it isn't the way you wish now -- I hope that bond of love and pain will never be cut," she wrote to Ormsby Gore after his proposal in 1968.

"You are like my beloved beloved brother -- and mentor -- and the only original spirit I know -- as you were to Jack," she added.

Ormsby Gore had suggested a "secret marriage" during the summer of that year and said he found the categorical rejection "unbearable".

His wife was killed in a car accident in 1967 and Kennedy, whose husband was assassinated while president in 1963, had written to offer her condolences.

"Your last letter was such a cri de coeur of loneliness -- I would do anything to take that anguish from you," she told the former ambassador.

Kennedy went on to marry Greek shipping mogul Aristotle Onassis, explaining her choice in her final letter to Ormsby Gore.

"You and I have shared so many lives and deaths and hopes and pain -- we will share them forever and be forever bound together by them," she wrote.

"If ever I can find some healing and some comfort -- it has to be with someone who is not a part of all my world of past and pain -- I can find that now -- if the world will let us."

The collection of 18 letters from Kennedy to Ormsby Gore covers the period from her husband's assassination until her marriage to Onassis in 1968.

They are part of a larger cache of papers found at Ormsby Gore's family home, including correspondence from John F. Kennedy and British prime ministers, which is expected to fetch up to £150,000 ($190,000, 170,000 euros) at the sale by Bonhams auction house.

Ormsby Gore served as British ambassador from 1961 until 1965, when he returned to the UK, and died after a car crash in 1985.

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A federal judge on Tuesday approved a $97 million settlement in a lawsuit over drinking water contamination in the US city of Flint, Michigan, requiring that all lead pipes be replaced.

The agreement comes almost three years after lead first began to contaminate the drinking water of the hard-scrabble Midwestern city near the US automotive capital of Detroit, due to a switch to a more corrosive water source that had not been properly treated to protect aging underground pipes.

The lead contamination, initially denied by state and local officials, poisoned thousands of children. The tainted water caused the deaths of 12 people from Legionnaire's disease, officials said.

According to the state's top law enforcement official who is now investigating the crisis, a $200-a-day water treatment would have prevented the lead leaching.

The settlement requires that all of Flint's lead and galvanized steel pipes be replaced within three years. The state must also guarantee the availability of water filters through 2018 and provide bottled water at least until September.

US District Court Judge David Lawson will monitor the settlement's implementation.

"For the first time, there will be an enforceable commitment to get the lead pipes out of the ground. The people of Flint are owed at least this much," said Dimple Chaudhary, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The NRDC is one of the groups that brought the lawsuit along with Flint area pastors and the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Flint resident Melissa Mays was also a party to the suit.

"This is a win for the people of Flint," Mays said in a statement. "The greatest lesson I've learned from Flint's water crisis is that change only happens when you get up and make your voice heard."

Almost half of the money in the settlement will come directly from the state of Michigan, with the rest allocated by the US Congress.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder supported the settlement, saying it was the best path forward for Flint.

"While the settlement provides for commitments to many different resources, the state will continue striving to work on many priorities to ensure the city of Flint has a positive future," Snyder said in a statement.

Thirteen current and former government officials have been criminally charged in the ongoing investigation of the handling of the water crisis and the decisions that caused it.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has also sued two water engineering companies, the French firm Veolia and the Texas-based Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, claiming they failed to prevent or properly address the crisis.

The two companies have denied wrongdoing.