News and Announcements

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The Great Crash of 1929 and Great Depression -- a reflection after 90 years

Ninety years ago, during this week, a stock market crash -- later to be known as "Black Thursday" -- shook the global market. By this time, the dire warning signs of a severe economic downturn were felt around the world, ushering in the Great Depression.

For this meeting, we'll discuss the following:

• The causes of the unprecedented economic downturn. What are the common myths and misconceptions, if any?

• The impacts and aftermath.

• A very brief discussion on the significance of WWI and the implications of WWII, vis-à-vis the Great Depression.

• The lessons learned.

• The role of government in response, and any criticisms of the policies before, during and after the Great Depression.

• The polices enacted under the New Deal -- by way of relief, recovery, and reform -- was this profound expansion in the scope of government justified and / or effective?

• Finally, as we fast-forward to 2019 -- are we headed for another significant economic downturn, amid global economic stagnation, rise of automation and trade wars?

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"Deepfakes," Ethics, and the First Amendment

For this meeting, we'll discuss the intersection of "deepfakes," ethics and the First Amendment.

A Wikipedia definition of a "deepfake" (and its application) is as follows: "a technique for human image synthesis based on artificial intelligence. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos using a machine learning technique known as generative adversarial network. Because of these capabilities, deepfakes have been used to create fake celebrity pornographic videos or revenge porn. Deepfakes can also be used to create fake news and malicious hoaxes." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepfake).

For this meeting, we'll discuss the following:

○ Have we now officially charted into the "Post-Truth" world?

○ What are, and should be, the limits of the First Amendment, if any?

○ How can the existing laws and legal remedies fend off the use of deepfakes for malicious purposes?

○ What ethical obligations, if any, do the tech companies and media industries have in combating deepfakes that are used for malicious purposes?

○ What ought to be the proper legislation or regulation, if any, in combating deepfakes that are used for malicious purposes?

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To impeach . . . or not impeach?

That is the biggest question of the moment in America.

As we ponder that question, let's explore further in terms of the historical, constitutional, practical, and political considerations and ramifications.

Admittedly, impeachment is always fueled by partisan motives. However -- just for a few hours this afternoon -- let's set aside the tribalistic, bitter hyperpartisanship, and let's objectively explore this in depth. In doing so, we'll discuss the following:

The History
○ The constitutional basis for impeachment and removal of a high-ranking government official.
○ The Framer's intent for impeachment as part of the checks and balances, and the separation of powers.
○ What were Hamilton's ideas on impeachment? (See generally, The Federalist Papers No. 77).
○ Past individuals who were impeached by the House.

The Legal Process
○ The launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
○ The drafting of the articles of impeachment as a charging document.
○ A full body vote by the House, followed by a formal trial in the Senate.

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2010 ~ 2019: A Decade in Review

As this decade comes to a close, we'll take a look back the most pivotal and consequential moments. The following below, in our opinion, fit that category; and, as such, they will be discussed.

▨ The Arab Spring: This was once a groundbreaking, promising and aspirational regional movement that sought to topple authoritarian regimes in search for a Western-style democracy. But, in the end, in most places, it ushered in greater bloodshed, violence, oppression and instability (i.e., Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen, et al.). How do you assess the role of the U.S. given the circumstances? What were the unintended consequences and lessons learned, if any?

▨ The Obama Legacy: Now that three full years have passed and two Democratic Party primaries have taken place, we'll re-visit and re-examine former Pres. Obama's legacy. As a two-term President, seven out of 8 years of his Presidency took place during this decade. We'll discuss how his policy priorities -- as well as any failures -- may have attributed in the current state of affairs. This is a "refresher update" to the original "Obama Legacy" discussion (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/events/235923036/).

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Greenland, Amazon, Kashmir and Hong Kong -- a case study on "sovereignty"

These four regions have garnered significant world attention lately. These regions are either semi-autonomous, or are situated in an area that ostensibly threatens the dominant state's sense of "sovereignty" over the servient state. We'll explore various modern political concepts, such as the "democratic theory," a notion of a "true sovereign," "extraterritoriality," and of course, the rise of "Nationalism."

With that in mind, we'll analyze each of the four regions:

▨ Greenland -- It was recently revealed that the Trump Administration seriously considered in purchasing Greenland. But who are the appropriate parties in this proposed international real estate transaction? Are the Greenlanders the rightful owners of this island-continent, or should any discussions of a potential sale be subject to the approval of the Kingdom of Denmark?

▨ Hong Kong -- Large-scale protests against the extradition bill have engulfed Hong Kong since June. Is the concept of "one nation, two systems" beginning to show signs of collapse? What is the proper balance between the servient state's stated goal of autonomy, and the dominant state's encroachment under the guise of "security and stability"?

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Live Debate: "This House supports the right to bear arms as a fundamental right"

Come watch a live debate on the contentious topic of "The Right to Bear Arms."

Louis (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/192589849/) and
Rob (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/191279019/) will team up against Rajiv (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/7865258/) and Colin (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/224626421/) to engage in a civil and thoughtful debate on this topic.

Here's the final debate resolution:
"This house supports less restrictions on the right to bear arms because it's a fundamental right."

The debate will be in an "Oxford-style" format (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate#Oxford-style_debating).

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The event schedule:

6:00 -- doors open
6:15 -- introduction by the moderator
6:30 to 7:50 -- the debate!
7:50 to 8:00 -- event wrap-up

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The State of the 2020 Presidential Primaries and Candidates

The Political Forum is back!

It's been a long, noisy summer along the campaign trail and on the stump. The field of candidates for the Democratic Party has finally winnowed down to a (relatively) manageable size. Three additional challengers have emerged for the Republican Party, in an attempt to unseat the incumbent President. A perennial question remains whether this is a viable year for any third party candidates.

We'll spend the entire afternoon discussing the proposed SUBSTANTIVE POLICIES of these candidates -- with less emphasis on platitudes, media hype, "scandals" and the cumulative fundraising status.

We'll discuss the following areas of the proposed substantive policies:

▨ Healthcare
▨ Trade and tariffs
▨ Fiscal policies and budgetary proprieties
▨ Economic and job growth
▨ Climate change
▨ Foreign policy and international relations
▨ . . . and of course, the "culture wars"

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The upcoming election and primary contest days by the numbers -- from the date of this meetup, there are:

- 4 months and 13 days until the Iowa Caucuses.
- 5 months and 11 days until Super Tuesday.
- 7 months and 7 days until the New York Primaries.
- 1 year, 1 month and 13 days until the General Election!

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Live Oxford Debate: "This house supports reparations for slavery."

Come watch a live debate on the contentious topic of "Reparations."

Justin (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/225541364/) and Jaquon will team up against Kyree (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/130850192/) and Derek (https://www.meetup.com/NYC-Politics/members/4404967/) to engage in a civil and thoughtful debate on this topic.

Here's the final debate resolution:
"This house supports reparations for slavery."

The debate will be in an "Oxford-style" format (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate#Oxford-style_debating).

**************
The event schedule:

6:00 -- doors open
6:15 -- introduction by the moderator
6:30 to 7:50 -- the debate!
7:50 to 8:00 -- event wrap-up

PLEASE NOTE: due to the limited seating arrangements, there will only be thirty seats available, on a first-come basis. The remaining attendees will be accommodated via "standing-room" only. Therefore, an on-time arrival is strongly recommended.

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Mueller Time

Special Counsel Mueller's testimony was a culmination of a special probe, two-years in making, summarized in an over 440-page report, with 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, and approximately 500 witnesses.

This meeting is only our SECOND and probably the FINAL discussion on "Russia-gate." That being said, we'll discuss the following:

▨ The takeaway from Mueller's testimony.

▨ Was Mueller's testimony consistent with the Report?

▨ How did Mueller's testimony contradict the A.G. Barr's interpretation?

▨ Should a sitting-president be indicted for any criminal offenses?

▨ Did the testimony sway your opinion regarding the impeachment efforts brewing in the House?

▨ Is it proper for the Office of the Special Counsel to issue any "exoneration" at the conclusion of its investigation?

▨ Overall, did Mueller's testimony clarify, or further confuse, your understanding of the Report?

▨ What's next, if any, for this special probe?

▨ Finally, the "known-knowns" and the "unknown-unknowns."

IMPORTANT: This discussion will strictly be focused on the Mueller Report and his testimony. Due to the time constraints, we won't have time to delve into "conspiracy theories" or resort to hyper-partisan rhetoric.

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Foreign Policy Forum: Iran, Sudan India, and Hong Kong

It's been a while since we've discussed major events unfolding on the world's stage.

For this meeting, we'll discuss the following:

▨ Iran: The drumbeat for a military showdown is getting louder, as the military hardliners on both sides of the confrontation continues to spew dangerous rhetoric, making a military escalation ostensibly all but inevitable.

▨ India : We'll discuss the outcome of the recent presidential elections, including the major campaign issues and the challenges ahead.

▨ Sudan: As Sudan ousts its long-reigning dictator, military crackdown begins, erupting in widespread violence against the "pro-democracy" movement. We'll discuss the latest, including the civilian-military power-sharing deal.

▨ Hong Kong: This month marks the 22nd anniversary since the U.K. relinquished its control. Massive protests have taken over the streets to protest the authoritarian measures proposed by the mainland.

More details to follow.

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