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Condi Rice coming soon to CBS – and Stockton

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is coming soon to a television, and a speaking engagement, near you.

Condoleezza-Rice-photo-by-Steve-Gladfelter-Stanford.jpgCBS News announced yesterday that Rice, 58, who is now a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow, is now a CBS News contributor, effective immediately. “In this role, the former Secretary of State will use her insight and vast experience to explore issues facing America at home and abroad,” the news release said.

Rice, who was President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009 and his National Security Advisor from 2001 to 2005, is also a founding partner of RiceHadleyGates LLC, an international business consulting firm.

She will be featured at a March 21 forum on “Advancing Women’s Leadership,” to be held at the University of the Pacific’s Alex G. Spanos Center; tickets cost $25 and will go on sale tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 22) at the university’s box office. Proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stockton and the University’s Women’s Resource Center.

The forum aims to inspire participants, especially young women, to make a lasting, positive and powerful impact in the communities where they live and work.

“We are thrilled and proud to bring Dr. Condoleezza Rice to Stockton,” Kathleen Lagorio Janssen, chair of University of the Pacific’s Board of Regents and a member of the Advancing Women’s Leadership planning committee, said in a news release. “Her vast accomplishments on the national and global stages are an inspiration to all aspiring leaders, men and women, who are working to improve the lives of those around them.”

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On the retirement of a journalism icon

I attended a surprise retirement party this morning at KQED in San Francisco for Belva Davis, whose last episode of “This Week In Northern California” will air at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Belva DavisI’ll not recount her long, storied career here; we’ve already carried a great story this week about her amazing contributions to journalism. But I’ll tell you what I told her today: Whatever I’ve done so far in my career, and whatever I do in the future, having worked with Belva Davis will always be among the honors and privileges of which I’m proudest.

Calling her a trailblazer – while certainly true – doesn’t adequately describe the honesty, integrity, professionalism and kindness she has brought to her work every day over these many decades. As some speakers at today’s party said, she embodies the “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” credo of journalism, but never in a mean-spirited way – she has had a keen sense of the right questions to ask, and the unerring bravery to ask them.

Her retirement, while so very well-deserved, will be a loss felt by so very many journalists and viewers all over Northern California. She can be succeeded, but never replaced.

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Cal researchers map political info via social media

Cal Berkeley researchers have launched a new website to explore how political knowledge can be spread rapidly across big populations using social media – and their test subject is one of this election season’s hottest issues.

The project, from UC’s CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative, aims to develop a general-purpose system that can be used for a wide variety of issues, but for now it’s being tested on just one: Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike ballot measure.

Ken Goldberg, an engineering professor, said that “although the outcome of this vote has an enormous potential impact on students, alumni, teachers, parents and employers, many are not aware of Proposition 30. The California Proposition 30 Awareness Project aims to change that.”

Visitors to the website can learn about the ballot measure – a four-year, quarter-cent sales tax hike and a seven-year income tax hike for those making more than $250,000 per year – and receive a custom web link to share with whomever they please using email, Facebook or Twitter. They can return to the site later to see a unique graphic representation of their influence, and track their “influence score;” after the election, the website will list the 50 most influential people.

Influence is computed using a variant of the Kleinberg and Raghavan algorithm, where each visitor’s influence increases by one point for each person he or she recruits, by half a point for every person those people recruit, and so on. This model has been applied in many contexts with financial incentives, but researchers believe this is the first time it’s being tested with intangible rewards.

The researchers say the project and website emphasize awareness and are unbiased; the site includes links to the California Voters Guide and to campaigns on both sides of the issue. Visitors can also indicate their position for or against the proposition, and join an online discussion afterward.

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Chron’s Debra Saunders sitting in for Dennis Miller

Debra SaundersTune in tomorrow morning as San Francisco Chronicle “Token Conservative” columnist Debra Saunders and her husband, author Wesley Smith, guest-host Dennis Miller’s nationally syndicated radio show.

None of the 14 California radio stations carrying the show are in the Bay Area, but it’s also streamed live online from 7 to 10 a.m. PT.

Guests will include political satirist Will Durst; Chronicle reporters Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli; Cal law professor and former Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo; and bestselling author Dean Koontz.

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Gavin Newsom to host a Current TV talk show

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom starting next month will host a new weekly series on Current TV, the liberal news-and-policy channel cofounded and chaired by former Vice President Al Gore.

Gavin NewsomThe Gavin Newsom Show,” with hour-long episodes, “will have a decidedly California touch as Newsom interviews notables from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond,” according to Current’s news release, and will be executive produced by Mia Haugen, a former executive at The Street, Forbes and CNN.

“Gavin Newsom is a courageous leader who has boldly seized every opportunity to create positive social change,” Gore said in the news release. “First as a successful entrepreneur, then in his role as mayor of San Francisco, and now as lieutenant governor, Newsom touches many worlds – business, politics, entertainment and activism. We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.”

Asked whether doing the show will in any way detract from the time and energy Newsom gives his official duties as lieutenant governor, spokesman Francisco Castillo replied, “Absolutely not.”

“The show will be taped once a week,” Castillo said. “The time and energy he gives to this show is no different than what he did for his weekly radio show as mayor — except now with a broader audience. It’s about showcasing California, which would only benefit the state.”

Other Current TV show hosts include former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

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Boxer asks Dow Jones for hacking-scandal records

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., want Dow Jones’ top editorial watchdogs to cough up proof that the British phone-hacking scandal now rocking parent company News Corp. didn’t extend to our shores.

The senators specifically asked for information about the hiring of Leslie Hinton, who stepped down last week as Dow Jones’ CEO and publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Earlier, Hinton had been chairman of News International and admitted in testimony before Parliament that he knew of and OK’ed payments in 2007 to a private investigator and a reporter after they were convicted of illegal phone hacking.

The special committee to which Boxer and Rockefeller wrote was created during News Corp.’s 2007 purchase of Dow Jones to ensure the “continued journalistic and editorial integrity and independence of Dow Jones’ publications and services,” and has special access to all of the company’s records.

“As you know, allegations of illegal phone hacking and bribery in the United Kingdom at properties owned by News Corporation, a United States-based company, have outraged people around the world,” the senators wrote. “The American people need to be reassured that this kind of misconduct has not occurred in the United States and that senior executives at News Corporation properties in our country were not aware of or complicit in any wrongdoing.”

Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…
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