Two South American countries have been in the news a lot lately. For musicians in both those countries, the news is affecting their work. Luna has been very outspoken in her music about the political unrest in her country. "I know that is not my afraid, it's they are afraid of me — of my power, of our power." As Contreras notes, Luna joins a long legacy of Brazilian musicians speaking truth to power. "During the military dictatorship there in the 1960s, there was an entire genre of music that developed around these musicians," Contreras says. Contreras describes Luna, like other artists in this lineage, having "almost a sacred responsibility" to speak up for her people who are subjected to racism, classicism and unfair treatment of any kind. While Venezuelan vocalist Lolita Del Sol made it to the festival this year, Contreras spoke with Alicia Zertuche, SXSW senior programmer and visa supervisor, who recalled a heartbreaking exchange with Venezuela's Desorden Público who couldn't make it this year. It's not because we can't leave the country, we are afraid to leave our families behind.'" Contreras says that whether they could make it to SXSW this year or not, the music of these acts will serve as a timestamp of the political climate and a symbol of perseverance.
Good Wednesday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today. _____________________ • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recommended designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization. It would be the first time the United States designated a unit of another government’s military as a terrorist group, and some American officials caution it could put troops and intelligence officers at risk. • President Trump hosted Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president, at the White House on Tuesday. But while the cuts have activated some aspects of the economy in the short term, officials now concede they will not be enough to deliver the 3 percent annual growth the president promised over the long term. • For years, the Pentagon has maintained that no civilians have been killed in American airstrikes and raids in Somalia. In a new report released Tuesday, however, Amnesty International put the death toll at 14 since 2017 alone. The report linked the killings to Mr. Trump’s decision to relax rules for preventing civilian casualties. • The Supreme Court adopted a strict interpretation of a federal immigration law, saying it required the detention of immigrants facing deportation without the possibility of bail if they had committed crimes, including minor ones, no matter how long ago they had been released from criminal custody.
President Trump turned up the heat Wednesday in his feud with George Conway, calling the spouse of adviser Kellyanne Conway a “stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!” “George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. In one of the more bizarre feuds of the Trump era, George Conway has repeatedly questioned the president’s mental health on social media, all while his wife continues to work at the White House. Good for you! #NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder." Nuts." Why would he feel compelled to tell such an absurd lie?” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale initially responded by claiming he was just sour grapes. Later, Trump retweeted Parscale, adding: “A total loser!” in reference to Conway. But in December, the president’s son, Eric, slammed Conway as disrespectful toward his wife. People do see it that way, I don’t say I do, but people see it that way,” she added.
Two of Northern Nevada's top state assemblywomen will join RGJ's Pints and Politics to recap an action-packed second month at the state Legislature. The pair will discuss a resignation-ravaged March at the state capital, as well as progress on their own bills meant to combat jail deaths and illegal prostitution. The event is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at Craft Wine and Beer, 22 Martin St. in Reno. Related: Former state Sen. Atkinson pleads guilty, used $250K in campaign funds for SUV, night club Pints and Politics, hosted by the Reno Gazette Journal since 2015, is a casual forum over beers with Nevada’s top state and local politicians. The event is held at 5:30 p.m. at Craft on the final Tuesday of every month during the legislative session. Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, and James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, served as last month’s guests. You can watch that event here. Tuesday’s event is free and open to the public. Email Brett McGinness at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a question on the Facebook event page. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.
And an unregistered Russian agent being held in a Northern Virginia detention center can have her legal bills paid by an NGO that is partly funded, but not directly controlled, by the Kremlin. But her prosecution in Washington, D.C., last year shed light on yet another avenue through which Russia tried to influence American politics in 2016: namely, via an old-fashioned, on-the-ground operation, conducted not by experienced spies but by disarming political operatives. (Ionov denied to me that he works for the Russian government.) Both have worked to infiltrate or meddle in American politics—Butina through the National Rifle Association and the conservative, Christian right; and the Anti-Globalization Movement through American separatists on either end of the political spectrum. It was during this period that the Anti-Globalization Movement held its first Dialogue of Nations conference in September 2015 in Moscow, which was attended by separatist leaders from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Uhuru black nationalist movement. (IT’s vice president is Roman Khudyakov, a former Russian government official and a member of the Right to Bear Arms.) Ionov has a framed letter from Putin in the Anti-Globalization Movement’s offices in Moscow commending him for working “to strengthen friendship between peoples,” according to Vice. Driscoll, Butina’s lawyer, confirmed that he’s been in touch with Ionov about the funds collected for Butina’s defense fund. But he said he’s not concerned by the Anti-Globalization Movement’s controversial history with either the Kremlin or U.S. separatists—he’s just happy Butina finally has some money to pay her legal bills. Driscoll added that he’s optimistic that next month the judge will give Butina a sentence of time served, allowing her to promptly return to Russia.
Rather, joining with Democrats from other states, Ellison has won two injunctions and filed three other lawsuits against the Trump administration, according to a memo his office prepared for the News Tribune Editorial Board. The legal actions — related to reproductive rights, Trump's push for a border wall, and other issues — were listed at the top of a three-page detailing of "accomplishments" during Ellison's first 65 days in office. Separating politics from the work he was elected to do certainly does seem to be the challenge many suspected it would be for Ellison. "I've said this to you, and only time will be able to show that I really mean this, I didn't leave a safe seat in Congress just to fight with the Trump administration. But I didn't leave Congress to come here to fight with Trump," Ellison told editorial board members late last week. But ... if it was a Democrat (as) president, I'd do the same things. I'd go after him, too," Ellison also said. Neither was the suit in resistance to Trump's push for a border wall: "I didn't really want to (join that suit), but we need our money for the National Guard, drug interdiction, and military construction. Nobody gets to do politics on my official office. And nobody will ever feel political pressure to help me get re-elected.
Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney thinks it's a waste of time for candidates to talk about the Electoral College. “I would love to get rid of the Electoral College because I don’t think it’s the right way -- but it’s not changing. Doing things that matter to the American people.” “Every vote matters and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” said another Democratic White House hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in remarks Monday at Jackson State University in Mississippi. Delaney also addressed the topic of age, and the question of whether fellow candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., 77, and former Vice President Joseph Biden, 76, were too old to run, reacting to a column in The Washington Post asking if the two veteran politicians had waited too long to pursue the high office. “I don’t think people should be telling the American people that, you know, someone based on their age isn’t qualified to be the president. That’s up for the American people to decide,” Delaney, 55, told McCallum. “It’s crazy. Look, I’m a capitalist. “I believe in the power of capitalism, in its ability to create jobs and innovate, but I also believe in strong social programs.”
Since December, David Sirota has, on Twitter, on his own website, and in columns in The Guardian, been trashing most of Sanders’s Democratic opponents—all without disclosing his work with Sanders—and has been pushing back on critics by saying that he was criticizing the other Democrats as a journalist. Sirota’s hiring as a senior adviser and speechwriter was announced by the Sanders campaign on Tuesday morning after The Atlantic contacted the campaign and inquired about the undisclosed role Sirota held while attacking other Democrats. “He was advising beforehand,” Shakir said, explaining that Sirota’s informal work for Sanders goes back months, and was meant to be a trial period to see how the senator, who famously likes to write every word that he says himself, would work with a speechwriter. “Negative attacks on Democratic candidates,” Sanders said in 2018, criticizing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for putting out damaging information about an opponent to a favored candidate in a primary, “just continues the process of debasing the Democratic system in this country, and is why so many people are disgusted with politics." When people have questioned his tactics, Sirota has called them “mentally incapacitated.” Responding in mid-January to those who criticized him online for preemptively railing against the record of O’Rourke, who had not yet entered the race but had been a huge source of concern for Sanders allies since talk of O’Rourke’s potential presidential run picked up last year, Sirota tweeted, “The screaming temper tantrums by Democratic Party operatives whenever reporters scrutinize a lawmaker’s voting record is something to behold. On Monday night, after being contacted for a second time by The Atlantic with a list of specific questions about his undisclosed work for Sanders, Sirota did not respond to the email but deleted more than 20,000 tweets. On Tuesday morning, minutes after his position was announced by the Sanders campaign in a long list of new hires, Sirota said he hadn’t been able to respond to my initial inquiries because he’d been caring for his sick child. I started doing this many months ago.” He did not respond when asked if it was a coincidence that the tweets were deleted hours after I contacted him and the morning before he was announced as a Sanders employee. He then turned those into an op-ed on December 20 in The Guardian, writing that “a new analysis of congressional votes from the non-profit news organisation Capital & Main shows that even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.” “This story was reported by David Sirota of Capital & Main,” the disclaimer at the end of the article read. He wrote another op-ed two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, headlined “Beto O’Rourke Is the New Obama.
An appointee from Ketchikan has withdrawn his name from a volunteer position on the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct . Trevor Shaw had been appointed to serve on the volunteer commission by Gov. He and his wife are expecting a child within a few weeks. “I will continue to endeavor for the truth of the situation to be revealed, as opposed to the alternative facts that are being predominately portrayed in a concerted effort to deceive the public about my nomination,” he wrote in a letter to the governor. At the time, Shaw was the youngest school board president in Alaska history, and some in Ketchikan criticized his leadership during the investigative process of the teacher. In a small town, everyone knows everyone, and the teacher was a family friend who had officiated at his wedding. Shaw eventually resigned from the school board in 2018, rather than face a recall that was under way. The scandal came at the same time Shaw was trying to negotiate union contracts in public session, rather than behind closed doors. The teacher’s union and local Democrats used the scandal to gin up opposition to Shaw, who was also the district chair for the Alaska Republican Party. Dunleavy accepted Shaw’s withdrawal and appointed Fairbanks resident Hank Bartos to serve on the commission.
The 2019 provincial election in Alberta will be an exercise in fear management. There are indeed stark differences between the economic plans of the NDP and the UCP, but both parties have moved to the middle in order to calm voters. Of course, the NDP will shout out that the UCP is plotting to turn Alberta into a divided province of haves and have-nots. Story continues below On the minimum wage issue, Kenney isn’t planning to slash the NDP’s increases, but keep the minimum wage at $15 per hour, save for cutting the youth minimum wage to $13 per hour (which provides a necessary incentive for employers to hire inexperienced workers). The NDP were notoriously against the Northern Gateway pipeline project and wishy-washy on Keystone XL, but now the NDP take full credit for the Trudeau Liberals buying up Trans Mountain when the expansion project was about to fail due to activist obstructionism and judicial road blocks. Proclaimed the NDP throne speech: “Trans Mountain remains in play because we compelled the federal government to step up and buy it.” The NDP has also moved to bolster the energy sector with a diversification plan, $3.5 billion on the table to encourage billions more in private sector investment in petrochemicals. When I recently asked Kenney about this issue, his words echoed many NDP statements. We want to look at each decision on its own merits. We agree that there is tremendous potential for more value added, leveraging our super cheap natural gas feed stock. When it comes to attracting investments like this, we are competing with other jurisdictions that do offer tax incentives, U.S. gulf states that will offer packages like no property tax, no corporate tax, et cetera for a certain number of years.” Even on the issue of government debt, Kenney takes a more moderate approach than previous right-wing Alberta governments.