Robert Kaiser, Washington Post Associate Editor

What is truly going wrong in Congress – literally, what isn’t working – that blocks the whole system and generates such frustration? Robert Kaiser, Washington Post associate editor and senior correspondent, looks at the problem through the lens of the Dodd-Frank Law — the 1500-page regulation that either saved or ruined our banking system, depending on whom you ask. With incredible and essentially full access, Kaiser shows us how things do and don’t get done in Congress. He’s just put it all in a book – “Act of Congress: How America’s Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn’t.” (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

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Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations

Of all the destabilizing threats coming from China today – a slowing economy; military growth; computer hacking; relations with Japan – none may be a greater risk to regional stability than one basic resource: Water. It sounds simple, but controlling water rights – where water flows and how much – has become an issue of international concern. Last week, Elizabeth Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, provided Senate testimony to the Senate about the threat. She joins me now. (July 30, 2013)

Does the Sequester Work?

Round one of the sequester brought a lot of discussion of difficult cuts, but its impact went greatly unnoticed — though many military bases felt the impact. Now, with more sequester cuts pending, how might US military bases and other defense areas feel the pain?

Topic A: Defense blog co-editor and Conversations with Thinkers host Chris Riback discusses the sequester and its impact on the military and other government areas with WFLA radio (@970WFLA).

Joe Nye, former US Asst. Secretary of Defense

As we consider our incredible range of urgent international and defense affairs – challenges with our deepest Intelligence Gathering secrets revealed, China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Iran – all while coordinating a military exit from Afghanistan, a question: How much does Presidential Leadership matter? Joe Nye is a former US Asst. Secretary of Defense and currently University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His new book is “Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era.”

Retro Report’s Harry Hanbury — “Walter Reed: The Battle for Recovery”

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.33.25 PMIn 2007, the Washington Post reported on horrible aftercare at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Active duty Army soldiers living and rehabilitating in decrepit conditions: Moldy rooms, holes in walls, mice and rats. Perhaps worse: A stifling bureaucracy that couldn’t – or wouldn’t – make things better.

To fix the problem, the US Army kicked out the old brass, brought in new blood and set up a new system: Warrior Transition Units. How does that system work today? Do our soldiers get the care they deserve?

Harry Hanbury is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that specializes in following important news events after the headlines have faded. Their new video is “Walter Reed: The Battle for Recovery.”

Retro Report’s Drew Magratten: “In the Shadow of Katrina”

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.47.55 AMFor a while, it was the storm of the century. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, with a bulls eye on New Orleans. We know what happened. The city lost.

For days, virtually no help to be found. And then for years, very little additional help. The recovery and rebuilding – to the extent it occurred – became a blue print for how to neither recover nor rebuild. If nothing else, out of Katrina’s devastation and hopelessness came the hope that next time, we’d be ready.

Next time was Hurricane Sandy. Almost a year ago to the day, the latest storm of the century hit the east coast, with a bulls eye on New Jersey and Long Island. But in the storm’s wake, did we learn from Katrina’s lessons? Are we getting the recovery right?

Drew Magratten is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that follows important events after the headlines fade. Their new video is “In the Shadow of Katrina.”