Briefs, December 20, 2012

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 3:57am

Robert Bork, hero of the US right, dies at 85

ARLINGTON, Virginia - Robert Bork, whose failed 1980s nomination to the US Supreme Court helped draw the modern boundaries of cultural fights over abortion, civil rights and other issues, has died. He was 85. Brilliant, blunt and piercingly witty, Bork had a long career in politics and the law that took him from respected academic to a totem of conservative grievance. Bork's defeat during the 1987 Senate court nomination hearings made him a hero to the right and a rallying cry for younger conservatives. The fight over Bork was the first national political and lobbying offensive mounted against a judicial nominee, and it has defined every high-profile judicial nomination since. The process also created a verb, "to bork", meaning vilification of a nominee on ideological grounds. Democratic senator Edward Kennedy summed up the opposition to Bork at the time by saying: "In Robert Bork's America, there is no room at the inn for blacks and no place in the Constitution for women." AP


Miss USA libel costs beauty queen US$5m

NEW YORK - Donald Trump's Miss Universe beauty pageant has won US$5 million in damages in a defamation suit against an ex-beauty queen who claimed the Miss USA pageant was rigged. The Miss Universe company sued Sheena Monnin after she wrote in a Facebook post in June that a fellow contestant claimed to have seen a list of the top five winners before the contest had begun. An arbitrator said Monnin acted with "actual malice". "Monnin claimed the pageant was rigged within minutes of being passed over as one of the 16 finalists, and before she had any factual basis for her allegation of rigging," he ruled. Reuters


Petraeus' former lover in the clear

WASHINGTON - Paula Broadwell, the former lover of ex-CIA chief David Petraeus, will not be prosecuted for cyberstalking during the affair that led to his downfall. The general stepped down last month as head of the CIA after admitting to an affair with Broadwell, a lieutenant-colonel in the Army Reserve who co-authored a biography of him. The FBI stumbled on the affair when Jill Kelley, a Florida socialite, asked investigators to look into e-mails that turned out to be from an apparently jealous Broadwell. AFP


World disasters in 2012 set to cost US$140bn

ZURICH - Natural and man-made disasters around the world this year will cost at least US$140 billion, according to a study by Swiss insurance group Swiss Re. The insurance industry will cover about US$65 billion of all the losses from such catastrophes. The figures marked a significant drop from last year, when insurers dished out more than US$120billion to cover such losses. AFP