Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Fri 4/21

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Battle For Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East

Date: Fri, April 21, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Competing for influence in Syria

Christopher Phillips, Ph.D. in International Relations, London School of Economics; Senior Lecturer in International Relations (with an Emphasis on Contemporary Jordan and Syria), Queen Mary's College in London; Author, The Battle for Syria
Jonathan Curiel, Journalist—Moderator

Phillips will discuss The Battle for Syria, his latest, highly praised book, and how six external protagonists, including the U.S. and Russia, have competed for influence in Syria—a key battleground. Philips, who founded the Syria and Its Neighbours Policy Initiative, has called the Syrian tragedy a disaster of global proportions and the greatest human catastrophe of the 21st century.

Mon 4/24

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Mastering Migraines: Neuroscience Nutrition and the Art of Avoiding Your Triggers

Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Natural ways to combat migraines

Steve Blake, ScD, Faculty Nutritional Biochemist, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience; Research Scientist; Author, Mastering MigrainesParkinson’s Disease: Dietary Regulation of DopamineVitamins and Minerals DemystifiedA Nutritional Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease; Co-author, Mosby's Drug Guide for Nurses

True migraines involve not only pain, but they also often involve nausea and light sensitivity. They may occur many times each month. To reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, one can identify the most common food and nonfood triggers, avoiding personal triggers. We will explore many scientific approaches that may help to reduce reliance on migraine drugs. For example, ginger root tea can not only help with nausea, but it was also found to lower migraine pain just as much as the powerful drug sumatriptan. You will learn many ways to lower excitability in the brain, potentially reducing migraine attacks. From ice packs on the back of the neck to coenzyme Q10, Blake will outline some of the many safer, natural remedies for migraine headaches with the goal of helping you to become free from migraine pain.

Blake recently finished a clinical study successfully using nutrients to combat neurodegeneration. He also authored Diet Doctor, software used to analyze dietary nutrients. For more information, visit: www.DrSteveBlake.com

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Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan— has been meeting monthly for nine years. We are not a debate group. Each month we discuss timely, cultural subjects in a civil atmosphere with respect for others and their opinions. Students are particularly welcome.

Image - Bridget Ford

Bonds of Union

Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The tensile strength of national connections

Bridget Ford, Professor of History, California State University, East Bay; Author, Bonds of Union: Religion, Race, and Politics in a Civil War Borderland

Americans today worry that social and political divisions threaten our democracy and our futures together, bound by one nation. Bridget Ford will offer valuable historical perspective from the Civil War era, this country’s greatest test of unity and moral purpose. Drawing from her recent book, Bonds of Union, Ford will show how diverse Americans worked to create a stronger, more inclusive nation that prevented the country’s permanent dissolution. Her talk will focus on the establishment of publicly funded schools for all children, and the new Republican Party’s critical involvement in that effort in the 1850s. She will argue that the United States has a longer, deeper history of imagining an inclusive society than we typically imagine, one that stretches back to the decades before the Civil War. 

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Ben Shapiro: Rules for Debating the Left

Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Shapiro's views on controversial issues

Ben Shapiro, Editor-in-Chief, DailyWire.com; Host, “The Ben Shapiro Show"; New York Times Best-Selling Author; Attorney
Matt Shupe, Managing Partner, Praetorian Public Relations; Executive Director, California Young Republican Federation—Moderator

Ben Shapiro has made a name for himself as a prominent young conservative voice in our nation’s political dialogue. At 17, Shapiro became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in America as a part of the Creators Syndicate. He was the editor-at-large for Breitbart.com; co-founder of TruthRevolt, the media watchdog website; has written several successful books and also started his own law practice. Today, he's the editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com; host of "The Ben Shapiro Show," the number one conservative podcast on iTunes; and has almost half a million Twitter followers, who engage in discussion and debate with him every day. Shapiro is a California native and is a graduate of both UCLA and Harvard Law School.

Shapiro is frequently called upon to offer his opinion on controversial political and social issues, on everything from the role of the media in our society to the rise of Black Lives Matter to Jews in the United States. He’s known for his confrontational approach and is never one to back down during a heated exchange.

Shapiro welcomes agreement and argument alike, so we hope you’ll join us for an in-depth conversation. Bring your questions!

Tue 4/25

Image - David Dalin

Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan

Date: Tue, April 25, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Jewish justices of the high court

David Dalin, Ph.D., Author, Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan

Dr. Dalin will cover the lives, legal careers, judicial legacies, and Jewish background of the eight Jews who have served or who currently serve as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Louis D. Brandeis, Benjamin N. Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, who was appointed by Barack Obama in 2010. He will also discuss how Woodrow Wilson's historic appointment of Louis D. Brandeis in 1916 began the tradition of a "Jewish Seat" on the Supreme Court, and the role that antisemitism did or did not play in these eight Justices' legal careers and Senate confirmation hearings.

Image - Texas flags and wind power

Texas Surprise

Date: Tue, April 25, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The Lone Star State's energy leadership

Skip Averitt, Chair, Texas Clean Energy Coalition; Republican Former State Senator
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA

When Californians think of Texas, images of JR Ewing and pump jacks quickly come to mind. But the Lone Star State is greener than you think. It leads the country in wind power, thanks to a law signed by Governor George W. Bush. Texans also claim the state can comply with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan with technologies and policies already on hand. Ranchers and former oil men are dipping their toes into renewable energy. What else is in the clean energy pipeline?

Join a conversation with Texas energy leaders about fossil fuels and renewables in America’s most prominent energy-exporting state.

Wed 4/26

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Week to Week Politics Roundtable and Social Hour 4/26/17

Date: Wed, April 26, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Insight into political issues, delivered with expertise and wit

Panelists TBA

It's never a dull moment in politics these days, and we'll discuss the biggest, most controversial and sometimes the surprising political issues with expert commentary by panelists who are smart, are civil, and have a good sense of humor. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz!

And come early before the program to meet other smart and engaged individuals and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our member social (open to all attendees). 

Thu 4/27

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Journalist Chris Whipple: Secrets of the White House Gatekeepers

Date: Thu, April 27, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
The power of the gatekeeper

Chris Whipple, Documentary Filmmaker; Author, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency
Joe Garofoli, Senior Political Writer, San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter —Moderator

Can Donald Trump, the ultimate outsider, learn how to be an effective president? According to author and documentarian Chris Whipple, Trump cannot be effective unless he empowers a strong chief of staff to take charge of his White House and execute his agenda.

Drawing on his extensive interviews with two former presidents and 17 living chiefs of staff, Whipple says this is one of many lessons learned by such diverse figures as Dick Cheney, Rahm Emanuel, Donald Rumsfeld and Leon Panettta. Whipple says chiefs of staff, often referred to as "the gatekeepers," can make or break an administration. Whipple will offer new insight into our understanding of presidential history—from how James Baker’s expert managing of the White House, the press and Capitol Hill paved the way for the Reagan Revolution to how Watergate, the Iraq War and even the bungled Obamacare rollout might, conversely, have been prevented by a more effective chief. Come hear a fascinating look at this unique fraternity and the inner workings of the White House.

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Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty: 1,000 Wild Ways to Die

Date: Thu, April 27, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Exploring outlandish ways of dying

Cody Cassidy, Co-author, And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling Over Niagara 
Paul Doherty, Co-director and Senior Staff Scientist, Exploratorium; Co-author, And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling Over Niagara

How far could you get digging a hole to China? How long could you last if you stood on the surface of the sun? Did you ever want insights into the physics, anatomy and astronomy behind some of the weirdest deaths you can think of? Paul Doherty, a senior scientist at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, and co-author Cody Cassidy answer these questions and more. Join us for an interesting conversation about some of the most cartoonish, outlandish and impossible deaths and how these fantastical scenarios relate to real science.

Fri 4/28

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Trump and the Middle East

Date: Fri, April 28, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Trump policies in the Middle East

Alon Sachar, Middle East Peace Advisor; Co-author, A Path to Peace
Eddy Simonian, Master's in International Studies
Maher Kalaji, Ph.D. in Chemistry
Banafsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., Middle East Scholar; Author, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes—Moderator

A distinguished panel will discuss their perspectives on Donald Trump's presidency as well as policies and actions which may lead to peace or further conflict in the region. Alon Sachar has worked to advance Middle East peace under two U.S. administrations and cowrote A Path to Peace (with Senator George Mitchell). Maher Kalaji is a frequent contributor to our Middle East forum, and Eddy Simonian, an Assyrian Christian, wrote his master's thesis on Lebanon's sectarian conflict. Along with moderator Banafsheh Keynoush, the three panelists will present their perspectives on the potential effects of Trump’s words and actions in the Middle East.

Sat 4/29

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The New Political Climate

Date: Sat, April 29, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM
March on climate change

May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA

The 2014 Climate March in New York and other cities helped solidify public support in the run-up to the Paris climate accord the next year. But these days climate advocates are playing defense and trying to keep the Paris Agreement together. Will the Washington march have any impact on the politics related to climate change in the United States? Where can clean energy advance in the current political context?

Join Climate One as we go on the road for the People’s Climate Movement in Washington, D.C.

Tue 5/2

Image - John Kamm

Reengaging China on Human Rights

Date: Tue, May 02, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Changing China–U.S. relations

John Kamm, Founder and Executive Director, The Dui Hua Foundation 

In 2016, there was no bilateral human rights dialogue between China and the United States, nor was there any dialogue on rule of law. The decision to disengage was mutual. Now Beijing and Washington, D.C. are considering how (and if) to reengage on two of the most sensitive topics in their relationship: human rights and rule of law.

Although President Trump has discussed many issues related to U.S.–China relations, he has remained largely silent on human rights. John Kamm’s Dui Hua Foundation has been conducting an unofficial dialogue with the Chinese government and judiciary for many years. This dialogue focuses on treatment of prisoners, juvenile justice, women in prison and the death penalty—all topics that could be covered if official dialogue is revitalized. Kamm, having just returned from Beijing, will provide a briefing on where things stand in both the official and unofficial dialogue between China and the U.S. 

Wed 5/3

Image - Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, May 03, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Ongoing Ben Franklin forum

Join us monthly, every first Wednesday, for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week, for more than 40 years, the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20 years old. The virtues to which he aspired included justice, resolution and humility (but don't misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was "imitate Jesus and Socrates").

Ben Franklin Circles bring people together to discuss the most pressing philosophical and ethical issues of our time with the goal of improving ourselves and our world. 

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An Evening with Caitlyn Jenner

Date: Wed, May 03, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Challenges facing the transgender community

Caitlyn Jenner, Author of The Secrets of My Life; Twitter 
In conversation with Buzz Bissinger, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair; Co-author, The Secrets of My Life; Author, Friday Night Lights

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Join us for a rare conversation with one of the world’s most prominent transgender women. As former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn over the past few years, her personal journey has been public, painful and inspiring. What has her path of discovery taught her about truth, and what has it revealed about the challenges facing the transgender community? Bring your questions, and get ready to hear how a story of pain and deception can ultimately become one of embracing a person’s true identity.

Thu 5/4

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Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, May 04, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Walking tour

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable, midday walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.

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The Witches: Salem 1692

Date: Thu, May 04, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Account of Salem witch trials

Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize Winner; Author, The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem

The Witches is Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff's account of a primal mystery. Women's suffrage, Prohibition and the Salem witch trials are three rare moments when women played a central role in American history, and in Salem it was adolescent girls who stood at center stage. The panic began during a raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's niece began to writhe and roar. The panic spread quickly, as neighbors accused neighbors, husbands accused wives and parents, and children accused each other. The witch trials ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. Drawing masterfully on the archives, Schiff introduces us to the strains of Puritan adolescent life and the vulnerability of wilderness settlements adrift from the mother country, and she brilliantly aligns them with our own anxieties: religious provocations, crowdsourcing and invisible enemies.

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How Cities Can Solve the Climate Challenge

Date: Thu, May 04, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Cities combating climate change

Carl PopeCo-author (with Michael Bloomberg), Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet; Former Executive Director, Sierra Club
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA

Mayors around the country are bypassing national politics and working around federal restrictions to both clean up their cities and foster growth in renewable energy. In red and blue states, local leaders are solving traffic congestion, promoting smart growth, and preparing for the impacts climate disruption will have on public health, roads and other infrastructure. Cities are a good news climate story; most reductions in carbon pollution actually happen at the city and regional level.

Carl Pope teamed with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to write a book about how cities are cleaning up their regional economies. Join us for a conversation with an environmental legend and Bay Area leaders who are advancing sustainable communities despite enthusiasm for the brown economy in Washington, D.C. 

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This event is Sold Out

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant: Option B

Date: Thu, May 04, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Overcoming life's challenges

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook; Author, Option B
Adam Grant, Wharton Professor; Author, Option B

Join Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, authors of Option B, as they talk about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks. After the sudden death of her husband, Sandberg felt certain she and her children would never feel pure joy again. Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are steps people can take to recover and even rebound. Option B combines Sandberg’s emotional insights and Grant’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. The authors will share what they’ve learned on helping others in crisis; developing compassion for ourselves; raising strong children; and creating resilient families, communities and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to ordinary struggles, allowing us to build resilience for whatever lies ahead. Sandberg and Grant will discuss the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.

Fri 5/5

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The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason

Date: Fri, May 05, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Modern Islam

Christopher de Bellaigue, M.A. in Oriental Studies, Cambridge; Journalist; Author, The Islamic Enlightenment; Contributor, The New Yorker; Former Tehran Correspondent, The Economist
Jonathan Curiel, Journalist; Author, Al' America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots—Moderator 

Christopher de Bellaigue, who has covered the Middle East since 1996, will discuss his latest book, The Islamic Enlightenment, which discusses Islamic history as it relates to the modern world. De Bellaigue posits that, contrary to popular opinion, remarkable men and women from across the Muslim world have welcomed modern ideals and practices.