California firefighters distracted by special requests from politicians, VIPs during Woolsey blaze: report

A firefighter battles the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, Calif., last November.
A firefighter battles the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, Calif., last November.

Los Angeles fire officials were reportedly distracted by special requests from politicians and high-profile residents during the first crucial hours of the Woolsey Fire last November, an after-action report of the wildfire said this week.

The requests were mostly to ensure the safety of specific homes as the fire spread rapidly through the county, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The review did not say which politicians and VIPs were involved or how the requests affected the firefight.


Politicians react to California synagogue shooting: ‘No one should ever fear going to their place of worship’

President Trump sends his deepest sympathies to the victims of San Diego synagogue shooting

Politicians reacted and grieved over the tragic shooting that left one dead and three injured at a Poway, California synagogue on Saturday.

Many, like President Donald Trump, offered their thoughts and prayers and expressed sadness over the shooting which took place both on the last day of the Jewish holiday of Passover and exactly six months after the “Tree of Life” synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

“Thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the shooting at the Synagogue in Poway, California,” the president tweeted. “God bless you all. Suspected apprehended. Law enforcement did outstanding job. Thank you!”

Vice President Mike Pense also shared his condolences, condemning in “the strongest terms the evil & cowardly shooting” at the synagogue.

“No one should be in fear in a house of worship,” he tweeted. “Antisemitism isn’t just wrong – it’s evil.”

The shooting happened in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s, D-Calif., home state.

“We share in the grief of all who have been affected & their families,” she tweeted before expressing her commitment to the Jewish community.

One person dead in San Diego synagogue shooting

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., lamented that the shooting happened at the end of Passover and called for an end to “gun violence in America.”

“It is shocking to the conscience that someone would commit such a heinous crime on the last day of Passover,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings tweeted.


Counter-extremism expert says media, politicians should identify attacks in Sri Lanka for what they are

Left struggles to acknowledge Islamic terrorists were behind Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka

The founder of a London-based think tank that focuses on counter-extremism criticized media outlets and prominent political figures for not being forthright about this past Sunday’s suicide bombings in Sri Lanka aimed at Christians.

Six suicide bombings were orchestrated by Jihadi extremists against Sri Lanka’s Christian community killing over 300 people.

The media and prominent political figures went out of their way to downplay the religious aspects of the attacks prompting criticism, host Tucker Carlson said.

“They have been unable to name Islamist extremism by name and jihadist terrorism being a violent manifestation because they genuinely believe that a bigger threat due to their political perspective is white supremacist and far-right extremism and then, of course, there’s the pragmatic political side of things. They…

Jeremy Corbyn joins protest against himself outside his house

Jeremy Corbyn has joined a protest against himself outside his own house after he was unable to resist its pull.

Members of Extinction Rebellion, a group that demands immediate action against climate change, glued themselves to the fence outside Jeremy Corbyn’s house.

They believe that Corbyn’s green manifesto doesn’t go far enough to avert a worldwide climate disaster.

‘He’s one of the better politicians but…

Swedish PM Löfven to skip Almedalen politics festival

Swedish PM Löfven to skip Almedalen politics festival
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at Almedalen in 2018. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has again chosen not to attend the Almedalen political week this year.

The PM told newspaper Aftonbladet that he would not take part in the event, which gathers political leaders and grass roots activists from across the country.

Taking place every July since 1968, Almedalen is a unique festival where political parties, businesses, media, and other organizations gather for a week…

Research: When Companies Cozy Up to Politicians, the Economy Suffers

Diane MacDonald/Getty Images

When old technologies succumb to new creative ideas, competition thrives, innovation increases, the economy grows, and consumers benefit. In 1942, Joseph Schumpeter referred to this as the “gale of creative destruction” and deemed it the engine of sustained economic and technological progress.

However, many things impede such creative destruction. In particular, some firms can secure preferential treatment in the market, thanks in no small part to their political connections. In such a world, new, productive firms may struggle to out-compete politically-connected incumbents, leading to a reduced business dynamism and less innovation.

In our study, we try to understand how widespread such political connections are and how they affect firm dynamics, market competition, innovation, and the overall productivity of the economy.

We study Italian firms and their workers to answer these questions. We analyzed a newly available data from the Italian Social Security office on the firms and the employment histories of all private-sector workers from 1993-2014. And we matched this data to the national registry of local politicians, a dataset with millions of observations on politicians at the municipal, provincial, and regional levels, as well as to the local elections data. In Italy, local politicians are allowed to work in the private sector while they hold political office — such as being a mayor, council member, etc. We identify a firm as being politically connected at a point in time if the firm employs at least one local politician at that time. To better understand performance of these firms, we also match this data on firms and politicians with the firms’ balance sheet data and patent data from the European Patent Office. The nature of this data allows us to explore how political connections affect companies and the broader economy.

The focus on local politicians — at the municipal, provincial, and regional levels — is also an important feature of our analysis since local-level connections are much more pervasive and usually harder to detect. In addition, local politicians hold extensive power: among other duties, they have authority over and responsibility for the provision of local public goods and services; administrative authority over the issuing of various permits and licenses; and are responsible for the majority of the administrative burden faced by private firms in Italy.

Overall, we found that employing local politicians is a common practice, especially among large and/or old…

Joe Biden’s physicality is a mark of old-school politicians, not a creepy old man


Former Vice President Joe Biden promised to be respectful of people’s personal space after allegations of unwanted and inappropriate behavior. USA TODAY

In the fifty years I have spent in the company of politicians one of the things that most surprised me was their public physicality, like Joe Biden’s.

The more radical enforcers of the #MeToo movement are at present cuffing around former Vice-President Joe Biden for an incident that took place in Nevada in 2014. During a campaign rally that year, state legislator Lucy Flores has claimed that Biden stood behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders and buried his face in her hair. Revealing this in a New York Magazine blogpost, Ms. Flores’s account seemed timed to coincide with the imminent announcement of Biden’s intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination and, it would appear, calculated to inflict the greatest damage on Biden.

Biden’s defenders have rallied to his defense, making the argument that’s “Oh, that’s just Joe Biden”, a politician of inveterate physicality. On the face of it, that would seem a pretty lame excuse but consider the fact that explaining that “it’s just Joe Biden” is a great deal different from saying, “Oh, it’s just Harvey Weinstein.”

Read more commentary:

I was with Joe Biden when no one was looking, and he was always a champion for women

In the 50 years I have spent in the company of politicians — both male and female — one of the things that most surprised me was their public physicality. I remember sitting in the Senate gallery observing the body language of male senators and thinking that it more closely resembled that of men in a bar than it resembled what one might…

Angelina Jolie on running for political office: ‘Never say never’

Actress Angelina Jolie says she isn’t closing the door on trading Hollywood for Washington.

“Never say never,” the actress told People magazine when asked if she could see herself running for office.

“[But] right now I am looking to others for leadership,” Jolie, 43, added.

A special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the “Maleficent” star and human rights activist has long flirted with a political bid.

“If you asked me 20 years ago, I would’ve laughed,” Jolie said of a move into politics in…

Raw Politics in full: Brexit votes, first-time politicians and Facebook regulation

Raw Politics in full: Brexit votes, first-time politicians and Facebook regulation

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Running out of bad options?

British MPs are trying to break the Brexit deadlock in a series of dramatic votes on Monday. The string of indicative votes, as they’re known, comes after British lawmakers took control of the Brexit proceedings last week.

MPs will have another chance to cast their ballots on the eight indicative votes — some of which are being voted on…

ROY COOPER & LARRY HOGAN: Take it from us; politicians can’t be trusted to draw electoral maps

Television news crews wait for decisions outside the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, June 22, 2018. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Television news crews wait for decisions outside the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, June 22, 2018. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments North Carolina Republican went too far in drawing congressional district lines that favored the GOP and disenfranchised state voters. On Monday, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, wrote this column for The Washington Post. The text below was distributed in a news release from Cooper’s office.

The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments over whether politicians can be trusted to draw up their own districts.

Take it from us: They can’t.

We are governors from different parties with different views on a number of issues. But on this we agree: Elections should be decided by the voters. Under the current system, politicians devise maps that make some votes count more than others. They rig the system with impunity.

Our states — Maryland and North Carolina — are among the most gerrymandered in the country. Take a look at our congressional district maps, and you will see some absurd-looking districts. This is no artistic statement; it is a scheme to concentrate one party’s voters — often using race as a proxy for party affiliation — in as few districts as possible, while spreading out another party’s voters into a larger number of districts that can still be comfortably won.

Both parties do it — and have for decades.

We have pushed to take the politics out of the process to make it fairer and more neutral. But it is clear to us that elected members of our legislatures will never give up this power without the courts — or the people — taking it from them.