Background Briefing - Sunday August 29, 2010

Harry Shearer is an actor, author, director, and radio host. The Los Angeles native and New Orleans resident has enjoyed enormous success over the last twenty years for his voice work for The Simpsons, on which he plays a stable of characters including Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Ned Flanders. He is also known for his work in such films as This is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind, and his weekly radio program Le Show airs on radio stations across the globe. He has just completed a new feature-length documentary called, The Big Uneasy. It will screen in theaters nationwide for one night, tomorrow, August 30. Go to for show times and venues near you. 

Leslie Carde’ is an Emmy Award-winning investigative broadcast journalist with deep personal and professional ties to New Orleans. Carde’ has covered stories from the hostage crisis in Tehran to the Daniel Pearl murder trial in Islamabad. She was one of the first anchors at CNBC when it launched in 1989, was a foreign correspondent for CNN, and went on to create a variety of news and entertainment programs. She wrote, directed, and produced the feature-length investigative documentary, “America Betrayed.”

John Judis is a senior editor at The New Republic where he has been a contributor since 1982. An active member of SDS and the left of the Sixties, he taught philosophy at Berkeley and at the San Francisco Art Institute. His books include The Paradox of American Democracy: Elites, Special Interests, and the Betrayal of Public Trust, William F. Buckley: Patron Saint of the Conservatives, and Grand Illusion: Critics and Champions of the American Century. His article “The Unnecessary Fall: A Counter-History of the Obama Presidency” appeared August 12 in The New Republic, and has generated considerable commentary. On August 25, Judis published a response to his critics, defending his analysis. 

Daily Briefing - Thursday August 26, 2010

Kate Zernike is a national correspondent for the New York Times. She came to the Times as an education reporter in 2000 and has since worked for the paper’s investigations team, as a criminal justice reporter, and in the Washington bureau as a Congressional correspondent. She was a member of the team that shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for a series of stories about the Sept. 11 attacks. She was among the paper’s lead reporters covering the Abu Ghraib scandal and Hurricane Katrina, and covered the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008, and the midterm elections of 2006. She has been covering the Tea Party since Fall 2009, and her book about the phenomenon, Boiling Mad, will be out in a couple weeks. 

Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons is a professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her research focuses on Shari’ah law and its impact on Muslim women, and she teaches courses in Islamic Studies, women and religion, and African-America religious traditions. She has studied and practiced in the Sufi Islamic tradition since the 1970s. 

Dr. Dan Johnson +is the senior pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Florida, where he has served for more than a decade an a half. He holds doctorates from Asbury Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, and has written extensively on theological issues. Trinity United Methodist in Gainesville will be hosting the Gainesville Interfaith Forum’s “Gathering for Peace, Understanding, and Hope” on September 11th.

Kirby Dick is an Academy Award-nominated documentary film director whose works include "This Film is Not Yet Rated," "Twist of Faith," and "Derrida." His most recent film, "Outrage," focuses on closeted politicians with appalling gay rights voting records, examining the harm they have inflicted on millions of American and the media's complicity in keeping their secrets. 

Daily Briefing - Wednesday August 25, 2010

Sherle Schwenninger directs the New America Foundation's Economic Growth Program, and the Global Middle Class Initiative. He was Founding Editor of World Policy Journal, and he served as Director of the World Policy Institute at The New School. Mr. Schwenninger also was Senior Program Coordinator for the Project on Development, Trade, and International Finance at the Council on Foreign Relations, and is the author, with Walter Russell Mead, of A Financial Architecture for Middle-Class-Oriented Development.

Dr. John Mueller is a political scientist in the field of international relations as well as an award-winning scholar of the history of dance. He is recognized for his ideas concerning "the banality of ethnic war" and the theory that major world conflicts are quickly becoming obsolete. His books include Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them and Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda. He currently is the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and a professor of both political scienceand dance at The Ohio State University.

Jaydee Hanson is senior policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, a non-profit organization that has called for stronger food regulations and an end to an era where food safety regulation has been left in the hands of the corporations producing our food. He works on issues related to pathogens in the food supply and also genetically engineered and cloned animals. Previously, he directed the Human Genetics Policy of the International Center for Technology Assessment. He also served as the United Methodist Church’s staff director of genetics and bioethics issues.

Daily Briefing - Tuesday August 24, 2010

Eric Boehlert a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, he is the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006) and Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press, 2009). He worked for five years as a senior writer for, where he wrote extensively about media and politics. Prior to that, he worked as a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. 

Cleo Paskal specializes in the geopolitical, security, and economic implications of environmental change from global warming. She is a Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London, a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, NATO and the OSCE. She is one of three recipients of the 2010 Awards of Special Merit from the Grantham Prize for her latest book, Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map.

Daily Briefing - Monday August 23, 2010

Narda Zacchino co-wrote Boots on the Ground by Dusk: Searching for Answers in the Death of Pat Tillman along with Mary Tillman. Narda Zacchino is a Pulitzer-nominated journalist who worked as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times and as an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. She co-created the Los Angeles Times annual Festival of Books held at UCLA. She is also a co-founder, editor, and publisher at Time Capsule Press. We will be giving away Boots on the Groud by Dusk as a premium today for a donation of $100.