News and Announcements

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Law, History & Politics: the Chinese Exclusion Act + Korematsu v. U.S.

We'll continue our discussion in this new series -- LAW, HISTORY AND POLITICS.

he LHP series explore the intersections of its namesake -- an in-depth study of a particular law, court decision, or a legal precedent that shaped the political forces and its historical ramifications.

The LHP series will start out with subject matters that directly relate to the U.S. For instance, we'll discuss landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions, particular Constitutional Amendments, or an influential Legislative body of work.

The advanced LHP series will explore international and comparative law from a historic perspective. These may include: Magna Carta, the Code of Justinian, the Code of Hammurabi -- to more recent selections, such as the Treaty of Versailles, the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights and the Geneva Convention.

For this meeting, we'll read and discuss the following:

1) The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 --

Once upon a time, Congress enacted a law to prohibit an entire class of individuals from entering the U.S., based on race and ethnicity.

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July 2017 Newsletter

Hey all,

This past Sunday, we kicked off the "Pre-July 4th" celebrations with the following two events: 1) a viewing of an Alexander Hamilton documentary; and 2) a trivia night based on the "Revolutionary Period" themes. It was fun and informative -- many pointed out that the partisan divisions that sparked at the onset of this fledgling Republic still reverberates today.

Looking ahead, there are plenty of interesting events offered this month, including:

The U.S. Supreme Court's 2016 Term in Review (July 7th) -- regular seats full, with only waitlist seats available.

Special Art Exhibition, followed by a talk on the "State of Media and the Trump Administration" presented by a member of the "mainstream journalism" (July 25th) -- it's free to attend, but very limited seats are offered. More details will be posted soon. The RSVP window will open on Friday, July 7th at 9am.

Motion Debate: "Religion" (July 26th) -- the RSVP window will open on July 10th at 9am.

Finally, as the summer season kicks into full speed, a day-trip to Governor's Island for a picnic and a walking tour will be announced during August. We're looking for volunteers to assist with planning what will be a fun excursion!

Happy Fourth of July,


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Law & Politics: the U.S. Supreme Court's 2016 Term in Review

It's that time of the year again -- as the Court recently wrapped up its 2016 Term, a series of important decisions were handed down in the waning days. While the cases are not as contentious as the 2014 or the 2015 Terms, the 2016 Term, nonetheless, consisted of matters brimming with public policy significance.

As always, we'll be discussing these cases from a prism of political or public policy lenses -- no prior legal experience, or a comprehensive understanding of the Constitution or the Supreme Court is required.

To that end, we'll discuss the following cases:

• Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer -- Does the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause? (Holding: yes).

• Matal v. Tam -- Is the "disparagement" clause of the Lanham Act, banning the trademark of offensive names, of an Asian rock band "The Slants," unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment? (Holding: yes).

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Motion Debate: "Healthcare"­­

This month's Motion: Is it a proper function of the government to provide healthcare to its citizens?

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The Future of the U.S.-Iran Relations [Panel Discussion @ Asia Society]

Our friends at the Asia Society offered limited seats to attend this panel discussion.


An excerpt of the event description from the hosts:

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly denounced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the “Iran Deal” to dismantle that country’s nuclear program — and said he would withdraw from the agreement. Just days after the inauguration, Iran conducted missile tests, drawing a warning from President Trump that Iran “was playing with fire.” Relations between the two countries have remained contentious, and the escalation and potential for conflict are causes for concern. Against this backdrop, Iran held its presidential elections on May 19 and reelected President Hassan Rouhani.

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Memorial Day / June 2017 Newsletter

As we celebrate this Memorial Day, we should consider some of the important issues facing our service members.

On a national level, an extension of the Veterans Choice Program -- a new, temporary benefit that allows eligible Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility -- has resulted in budget cuts to VA benefits, as a tradeoff. While the merits of proposed tradeoff is certainly debatable, many veteran groups, especially the older VA groups, such as American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America, have been critical of the proposed cuts because it adversely impacts the older veterans the most.

On a local level, the following initiatives have been introduced to the NYC Council:

1. Int. 1259-2016 to Add Veteran and Military Status to the NYC Human Rights Law.

2. Int. 1304-2016 to Implement the Alternative (School Tax) Exemption for Veterans.

3. Res. 1196-2016 to Support Complete Passage of “Fairness for Veterans Act” Provisions.

4. Int. 1303-2016 to Provide Appropriate Protections for Veteran Street Vendors in “Street Vending Modernization Act.”


Looking ahead, next month’s calendar offers a chock-full of interesting events, including:

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Motion Debate: Has “Political Correctness” gone too far?

his is an invitation to attend and watch a live Motion Debate as an audience. This event is in collaboration with, as part of the monthly debate series. It's free to attend and complimentary beverages will be offered. Click here to complete the registration at an external website.

This month's Motion: Has “Political Correctness” gone too far?

Michael and John will team up against Katherine and Christine in debating for and against the Motion, respectively.

PC is commonly defined as "the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against."

Has the PC culture gone "too far" -- in other words, is PC more harmful than helpful to society?

What do you think? Join us for another exciting monthly installation of the Motion Debate!


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The Rise of Nationalism (and Populism) -- Part One: Europe

This is a multi-part discussion series examining the ostensibly-sudden rise of nationalism in different parts of the world, including the U.S.

For Part One, we'll explore the current political and socio-economic climate in Europe, including the following:

• "Nationalism" as a political ideology, giving rise to "Ethno-Nationalism" and "religious-based" nationalism.

• The emergence of the "Identitarian movement."

• Influences and precedents from Brexit and Grexit.

• Trends and patterns from key elections in the Netherlands, Austria, France, and Germany.

• Backlash from the refugee crisis, sudden demographic changes, and the recent terrorist attacks.

• When and how "Populism" spills over into "Nationalism."

• When and how "Populism" can trigger to economic and military isolationism.


** For Parts Two to Four, we'll examine Nationalism in other parts of the world, including in East Asia, India, Russia, Turkey, Latin America, and the U.S.

*** This discussion series will segue into an upcoming discussion on the historical roots of modern "nationalism," stemming out of the Treaty of Versailles and the prelude to World War Two.


Here's a soundtrack for this discussion:

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Solutions for Political Dysfunction & Polarization by Columbia Prof. Nemerovski

A partial video footage captured at Columbia SIPA.

Professor Steven H. Nemerovski of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) speaks at a panel discussion hosted by the NYC Political Forum. The topics include: 1) a discussion of political third party; 2) sensible reforms; 3) and how citizens can get engaged.

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Solutions for Political Dysfunction & Polarization: by Columbia Prof. Nemerovski

Columbia Professor Steven Nemerovski will discuss his two-volume book, "“Third Party” -- Volume One: "Starting In The Middle” and Volume Two: "Strange Bedfellows.”

Additionally, Prof. Nemerovski will discuss more about "None Of The Above," an initiative to confront and develop solutions for political dysfunction and polarization.



Part One: intro by Prof. Nemerovski
Part Two: one-on-one interview lead by Thomas
Part Three: Q&A from the audience

Columbia SIPA students will be joining this event.

Discussion topics may include the following:

• Myths and common misconceptions about third parties.

• A viability of a third party in the upcoming election cycles.

• Partisan dilemmas, pitfalls, and strategic challenges for both sides of the isle.

• Historic factors giving rise to the current partisan gridlock.

• What are the sensible reforms for either or both parties?