Kavanaugh seeks new tone after Supreme Court fight; Trump apologizes for process

Although the Senate confirmation process tested me as it has tested others, it did not change me, said Kavanaugh. (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018

Kavanaugh seeks new tone after Supreme Court fight; Trump apologizes for process

  • My focus now is to be the best justice I can be, said the newest US Supreme Court justice
  • The US Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm him, with just one Democrat supporting him.

WASHINGTON, Oct 8 : US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sought to put a bruising confirmation battle behind him on Monday at a White House ceremony in which President Donald Trump declared him innocent of sexual misconduct and apologized for the heated process.
“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure,” Trump said at the start of a ceremonial swearing-in in the East Room of the White House.
“Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception,” he said.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation process exploded in controversy after California university professor Christine Blasey Ford went public with allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982, while they were in high school.
Kavanaugh gave a forceful, emotional denial of those allegations during testimony before lawmakers that some Democrats said showed a lack of judicial temperament. The US Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm him, with just one Democrat supporting him.
Kavanaugh said on Monday that he was starting his new job without bitterness, seeking to set a new tone after the divisive process.
“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be,” he said with his wife and children standing nearby.
He said he would aim to be a force for stability and unity on the court, whose other eight members all attended the White House ceremony.
“Although the Senate confirmation process tested me as it has tested others, it did not change me,” he said. 


World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 24 January 2020

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

“Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

“So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”