News and Announcements

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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?


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The U.S. Airstrikes on Syria

Since March 2011, on the heels of the "Arab Spring," a bloody and complex civil war has erupted and ravaged Syria, resulting in one of the most complicated international, geopolitical crisis in the modern times.

In the past twenty-four hours, the U.S. launched a unilateral military strike -- thereby effectively making an entry into this multi-national conflict, six years in making.


Our discussions will include the following:

• What are the moral arguments for and against the military strikes?

• Was the unilateral use of military force justified and proportional?

• Should Pres. Trump have sought Congressional approval beforehand? Was the military action an overreach by the Executive Branch or without a proper legal basis?

• What does this mean for the "Trump Doctrine" -- a shift from "America First" to regime change and nation building in the Middle East?

• How will this impact the geopolitical dynamics in the region vis-à-vis Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and others? How will the rest of the world react?

• How will this affect the current Syrian refugee crisis?

• What role should the U.N. and the International Criminal Court play in prosecuting Assad?

• Will this inevitably lead to partitioning of Syria?

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Law, History & Politics: the "Separate But Equal" Doctrine + Justice Gorsuch

For this meeting, we'll read and discuss the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).

(Once upon a time, state racial segregation laws for public facilities were upheld and justified, under the doctrine of "Separate But Equal." It was overruled five decades later in Brown v. Board of Ed -- the Brown decision will be discussed in the upcoming LHP series.)

*** PLUS, we'll discuss the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll discuss his previous high-profile opinions, as well as the political controversy surrounding his nomination and the eventual Parliamentary-rulemaking maneuver for his confirmation.

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Motion Debate: Is "Stop and Frisk" an effective policy?

Synopsis: During his campaign, then-Candidate Trump called for the controversial "stop and frisk" policy to be instituted nationwide, as a means to combat violent crimes. Advocates for the idea point to its success in New York City, where the implementation of stop and frisk led to a 75% decrease in crime, and significantly less gun-carrying.

However, strong dissent from civil rights organizations challenges the effectiveness of such an invasive procedure, believing it unfairly targets young male minority groups. Police stops in NYC soared some 600% since the 1990s, with 80% of those stopped being Hispanic or black. A 2013 decision from the Federal District Court for the Southern District held that the NYPD violated the Fourth Amendment by conducting unreasonable searches and the Fourteenth Amendment by systematically conducting stops and frisks in a racially discriminatory manner (see Floyd v. City of New York, 959 F. Supp. 2d 540).

Is this controversial policy worth it to make cities safer, or is there an alternative method to achieve the same result? Join us for an exciting dose of civil discourse!


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Monthly Discussion -- U.S. Atty firings, "TrumpCare,"­ Post-Brexit UK + Debate!

We'll resume our "regular" monthly roundtable discussion, covering the most compelling stories and events unfolding in our City, the Nation, and around the World. As always, there's plenty to discuss!

PLUS, our monthly meetings will now feature a new segment -- "a Mini-Debate," where members can engage in a short, structured debate on a contentious issue.



• The City: the firing of the U.S. Attorneys, including Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York -- what this means for City and State politics, regarding the S.D.N.Y.'s pending prosecutorial matters (e.g., investigation into the Mayor's office, the Moreland Commission, suits against Wall Street firms etc.)

• The Nation: the demise of "TrumpCare" and the fate of Obamacare.

• The World: the future of the U.K. in a post-Brexit era

*** MINI-DEBATE: Is NATO still relevant and effective, as originally intended?

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Motion Debate: "Does the government have a duty to educate its citizens?"

The second Motion Debate continues!

Here, we debate the contentious issue of the role of government and public education. Education is undoubtedly an important factor in success and accomplishment -- however, does the Government owe a moral duty to educate its citizens?

Upcoming debate in April:
Is "Stop and Frisk" an effective policy?


Debaters Chuck Braman and Rob Guzman were this month's winners arguing against the motion. Citing a failing public education system paid for by coercion and tax dollars, Chuck and Rob advocated the idea that parents should have full autonomy in choosing how their children receive education.

Arguing for the motion were Ariela Silberstein and Lenny Herrera, who believe that while systems of education in western liberal democracies are flawed, they are necessary. Without government regulation and funding, there would be no metric to determine the success and applicability of a child's education.