He was a staunch critic of the court’s Griswold v. Connecticut decision in 1965 that found a right to privacy in the Constitution that trumped a state law prohibiting even married couples from using birth control. The ruling was a precursor to decisions in favor of abortion rights and gay rights, including some authored by Kennedy.
New Syria rebel chief says he’s forging force of 120,000 men in final push against Assad
MAARET MISREEN, Syria (AP) — The new Syrian rebel chief said he’s been moving between safe houses since taking up command, even changing quarters twice in one night when he feared regime spies.
Grappling with largely untrained and at times undisciplined fighters, Salim Idris said in an interview that he is trying to turn local militias into a united force of some 120,000 men for a final push against President Bashar Assad.
The challenges keep him awake at night, said Idris, a former general who defected from the Syrian army five months ago and was chosen as rebel chief of staff in a meeting of several hundred field commanders this month in Turkey.
Idris is ‘‘very afraid’’ a cornered Assad might unleash chemical weapons on the fighters. He said old friends of his still in the regime have warned him that the military, which already fired several Scuds, is training more ready-to-fire missiles on rebel strongholds in Syria’s northwest.
Logistics also pose a nightmare. The 55-year-old, who studied in Germany and taught electronics at a Syrian military college, communicates by Skype with his officers. With power out most of the time, he’s had important conversations cut short by a dying laptop battery, said Idris, who spoke with a professorial demeanor and wore a black suit during a brief break from the war zone.
Poor but positive: Latin Americans happiest, Singaporeans and Armenians least upbeat
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The world’s happiest people aren’t in Qatar, the richest country by most measures. They aren’t in Japan, the nation with the highest life expectancy. Canada, with its chart-topping percentage of college graduates, doesn’t make the top 10.
A poll released Wednesday of nearly 150,000 people around the world says seven of the world’s 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America.
Many of the seven do poorly in traditional measures of well-being, like Guatemala, a country torn by decades of civil war followed by waves of gang-driven criminality that give it one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Guatemala sits just above Iraq on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, a composite of life expectancy, education and per capita income. But it ranks seventh in positive emotions.
Gallup Inc. asked about 1,000 people in each of 148 countries last year if they were well-rested, had been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment.
The people least likely to report positive emotions lived in Singapore, the wealthy and orderly city-state that ranks among the most developed in the world. Other wealthy countries also sat surprisingly low on the list. Germany and France tied with the poor African state of Somaliland for 47th place.
Neil Armstrong, Dick Clark, Whitney Houston, Joe Paterno among those who died in 2012
Neil Armstrong would always be taking that first step onto the moon, and Dick Clark was forever ‘‘the world’s oldest teenager.’’ Some of the notables who died in 2012 created images in our minds that remained unchanged over decades.
Sadly, for others an established image was shattered by a fall from grace. Whitney Houston ruled as a queen of pop music, but years of hard living harmed her voice while erratic behavior and a troubled marriage took a toll on her image. And Joe Paterno, Penn State’s longtime coach, won more games than anyone in major college football, but was ultimately fired amid a molestation scandal involving an assistant coach that scarred his reputation.
Some whose deaths we noted weren’t known by image or even name but by contributions that changed our lives — like Eugene Polley, inventor of the first wireless TV remote control, and Norman Joseph Woodland, co-inventor of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores. Other scientists who died in 2012 included Lowell Randall, Martin Fleischmann, F. Sherwood Rowland, George Cowan and Bernard Lovell.
Among the political figures who died were George McGovern, Democrat presidential nominee who lost to Richard Nixon in a historic landslide, and ex-Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist. Others from the world of politics: Bill Janklow, Norodom Sihanouk, Charles ‘‘Chuck’’ Colson, Warren B. Rudman, Andrew Breitbart and Miguel de la Madrid.
The year also saw the deaths of a number of TV stars including Larry Hagman, who played oil baron J.R. Ewing on ‘‘Dallas.’’