Daily Briefing - Monday September 27, 2010

Wendell Potter is a senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy. He has been outspoken on both the need for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system and on the failures of American media as a watchdog for democracy. Potter moved to the Center for Media and Democracy after a long career as a corporate public relations executive for one of the nation's largest health insurers, CIGNA Corporation, where he was the company’s chief corporate spokesman. Prior to joining CIGNA, Potter headed corporate communications at Humana Inc., another large for-profit health insurer. 

Congressman Peter DeFazio has represented Oregon’s 4th Congressional District since 1987. A US Air Force veteran who has worked as a gerontologist in his professional life, DeFazio has developed a reputation for standing up against corporate interests and for personal integrity. He voted against both NAFTA and GATT, and has refused to accept pay raises while the government is in deficit spending. He has linked his take-home pay to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, and has donated the rest, $320,000 all told, to reducing the national debt and funding scholarships at five southwestern Oregon community colleges. DeFazio has recently been under attack by the Astroturf front group “Concerned Citizens of America.” On Friday, he went to the group’s Washington DC headquarters in an effort to determine exactly who has been funding those attacks in an attempt to buy his Republican opponent a seat in Congress. 

Graham E. Fuller is a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA. He also served as the CIA’s Kabul station chief and as a senior political scientist at RAND. Currently an adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, he has lived and worked in the Muslim world for nearly two decades and is the author of numerous books about the Middle East, including The Future of Political Islam and most recently A World Without Islam. He will be speaking at the Los Angeles Public Library downtown tomorrow, Tuesday, at 7:00 PM.

Background Briefing - Sunday September 26, 2010

Avraham Burg is the son of holocaust survivors and has been active in politics as a leader in the Israeli Labor Party and the One Israel party. He was Speaker of the Knesset from 1999 to 2003. Several of his books have been best-sellers in Hebrew, and he is the author of the English-language book, The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes.

Thomas Barfield is a professor of Anthropology at Boston University where he directs the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations. He is also President of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies. Dr. Barfield conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in northern Afghanistan in the mid-1970s as well as shorter periods of research in Xinjiang, China, and post-Soviet Uzbekistan. He is author of The Central Asian Arabs of Afghanistan, The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China, and is co-author of Afghanistan: An Atlas of Indigenous Domestic Architecture. His book, Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, came out earlier this year, and he has just returned from Afghanistan.

Jonathan Taplin is a Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California where he specializes in international communication management and digital media entertainment. Taplin began his entertainment career in 1969 as Tour Manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973 he produced Martin Scorsese’s first feature film, Mean Streets. He went on to produce television documentaries, including The Prize and Cadillac Desert for PBS, and twelve feature films including The Last Waltz, Under Fire, To Die For. Taplin was a founder, Chairman, and CEO of Intertainer, the pioneer video-on-demand company for both cable and broadband Internet markets, and he holds two patents for video on demand technologies. He blogs at Jontaplin.com. Call: 212-759-4100 rm 1101

Daily Briefing - Wednesday September 22, 2010

Michael Hunt is the Everett H. Emerson Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He specializes in U.S. foreign relations and international and global history. His books include The American Ascendancy: How the United States Gained and Wielded Global Dominance; Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy; and Lyndon Johnson's War: America's Cold War Crusade in Vietnam, 1945-1968. 

Perry Link holds the Chancellorial Chair for Innovative Teaching across Disciplines is also a professor of camparative Literature and Foreign Languages at the University of California, Riverside. He is one of the world's foremost experts on China’s language, culture, and people. He has translated many Chinese stories, writings and poems into English. He edited the "Tiananmen Papers," a collection of documents leaked by a high-level Chinese official that helped chronicle the events that led up to and followed the pro-reform student protests that were brutally quashed in June 1989. In 1996, the Chinese government blacklisted Perry Link as a result of that publication.

Toby Miller is chair of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. After working in broadcasting, banking, and civil service, Toby Miller became an academic in the late 1980s, and went on to become one of the world’s leading analysts of popular culture, media, and their connection to the politics of everyday life. His books include Technologies of Truth: Cultural Citizenship and the Popular Media, Globalization and Sport, Sportsex, Global Hollywood, Cultural Citizenship: How Conservatives and Neoliberals Captured the Cultural Politics of Television and How We Can Take It Back, Makeover Nation: The United States of Reinvention, and his latest, Television Studies: The Basics.

Daily Briefing - Tuesday September 21, 2010

Garrett Gruener is the founder of Ask.com and a co-founder of Alta Partners. Mr. Gruener holds advanced degrees political science and technology policy, and is a specialist in information technology with more than two decades of experience in software development, systems engineering and corporate development.He sits on the boards of directors of several companies, including Ask Jeeves and Nanōmix. In 2003, he ran for governor of California in the special recall election. His editorial, "I'm Rich, Tax Me More," appeared in Monday's Los Angeles Times.

Jeff Gottlieb is a senior writer for the Los Angeles Times. Along with his partner, Ruben Vives, he broke the story of outrageous pay scales for officials in the City of Bell. He has been covering the story ever since. In a cover story for Tuesday’s LA Times, Gottlieb and Vives explain how an audit determined that Bell spent nearly $95,000 repaying former City Manager Robert Rizzo’s loans. As copies of the newspaper arrived on doorsteps in Bell this morning, police were arresting Rizzo and six other city officials.

Michael Krepon is the founder and President Emeritus of the Henry L. Stimson Center. He directs programming at the Stimson Center on South Asia, arms control, and space security. He is also a Diplomat Scholar and Visiting Lecturer in the Politics Department at the University of Virginia. Previously, he worked in the Carter Administration, on Capitol Hill, and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has written and edited more than a dozen books including Cooperative Threat Reduction, Missile Defense, and the Nuclear Future, Space Assurance or Space Dominance? The Case Against Weaponizing Space, Nuclear Risk Reduction in South Asia, and Better Safe Than Sorry: The Ironies of Living with the Bomb. He recently published an article titled, “The Flood.”