Background Briefing - Sunday, October 31, 2010

Charles Schmitz is the president of the American Institute of Yemeni Studies and an associate professor of Geography at Towson University. He has researched and written extensively on Yemen and its relationships with other nations on the Arabian Peninsula and with the United States.

Adele Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief, and co-editor of Dangerous Brew: Exposing the Tea Party’s Agenda to Take Over America. The book is available only from She recently covered the Glenn Beck rally in Washington and then yesterday covered Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive.

James T. Kloppenberg is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and chair of the History Department at Harvard University. His books include Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920; The Virtues of Liberalism; A Companion to American Thought; and his new book Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition.

Daily Briefing - Thursday, October 28, 2010

Adele Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief, and co-editor of Dangerous Brew: Exposing the Tea Party’s Agenda to Take Over America. The book is available only from Alternet She recently covered the Glenn Beck rally in Washington and then yesterday covered Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and Stephen Colbert's March to Keep Fear Alive.

Marc Maron writes and performs raw, honest and thought-provoking comedy for print, stage, radio and television. He has appeared on HBO, Conan, Letterman, two Comedy Central Presents specials and has a book based on his solo show, "The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life as a Reluctant Messiah." He is the host of the #1 Comedy Podcast on iTunes--WTF w/ Marc Maron.

Debate on Prop 19 w/ James Gray and Mark Kleiman.

James Gray is the author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed And What We Can Do About It. He is a California Superior Court Judge, former Federal Prosecutor in the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, and was a Republican candidate for US Congress in 1998, and a Libertarian candidate for US Senate in 2004. Through his work with LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) and other initiatives, he seeks to mobilize others to join him in exploring alternatives to the “War on Drugs.”

Mark Kleiman is Professor of Public Policy in the UCLA School of Public Affairs. He teaches courses on methods of policy analysis and on drug abuse and crime control policy. He is the author of Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control and Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results, and his latest book is: When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment. He edits the Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin. Mark Kleiman taught at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and at the University of Rochester. Outside of academia, he has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice as Director of Policy and Management Analysis for the Criminal Division.


Daily Briefing - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wendy R. Weiser directs the Brennan Center for Justice's work on voting rights and elections. During the last few election cycles, she masterminded litigation and advocacy efforts that kept hundreds of thousands of voters from being disenfranchised. She has authored a number of reports and papers on election reform; litigated ground-breaking voting rights lawsuits; and provided policy and legislative drafting assistance to federal and state legislators and administrators across the country.

Trudy Schafer is the Senior Program Director of the League of Women Voters of California and the LWVC Education Fund. A League member since 1978, Schafer served as president of the Sacramento League and was legislation director on the League's state board of directors. She works on a broad spectrum of projects both in citizen education and in ballot initiatives regarding redistricting, campaign finance, and budget reform measures.

Robert D. Kaplan is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington and a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He was recently the Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and is a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. He has written thirteen books including Balkan Ghosts, Eastward to Tartary, and Warrior Politics. His new book is MONSOON: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.

Daily Briefing - Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dr. Anna Greenberg is a leading Democratic pollster with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and an expert in survey research methodology. She taught at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, was a visiting scholar with the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and is a research fellow at American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

Tom Bowman is founder and president of Bowman Design Group, a California-based company that creates exhibitions for corporations, museums, and events. Las, it year the company received a Small Business of the Year award from the California Air Resources Board. He also established Bowman Global Change, which helps organizations prosper while going Green.

Ingrid Betancourt was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and raised in France, but returned to Colombia in 1989 where she became a politician and presidential candidate admired for her determination to combat widespread corruption. In 2002 she was taken hostage by the FARC, a brutal terrorist guerrilla organization. For six years and 1/2 years, the FARC held her hostage in the Colombian jungle. She was rescued on July 2, 2008 and recently published a book on her experience called Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle.

Daily Briefing - Monday, October 25, 2010

Jay Rosen is a professor of journalism at New York University. His award-winning blog, PressThink,, puts forward critical analyses of journalism and the press. He is the author of the book, What Are Journalists For? and numerous articles for The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and others. He serves as a member of Wikipedia’s advisory board.

Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute. He has written extensively about American politics, foreign policy and the intersection of money and politics. His stories have also appeared in The New York Times, Editor & Publisher and The Guardian, and he is a frequent guest and political commentator on MSNBC, C-Span and NPR. His first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics was released in October 2010.

Jere Van Dyk is the author of In Afghanistan: An American Odyssey, an account of his travels with the mujahideen in the 1980s, during their struggle against the Soviet Union. Since then, he has covered stories all over the world, for The New York Times, CBS News, National Geographic, and others. His recent book Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban, is a chilling account of being kidnapped, imprisoned, and mysteriously released by the Taliban in the no-man's-land between Afghanistan and Pakistan.