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Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Conan O'Brien highlight secretive Bohemian Grove gathering

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and comedian Conan O'Brien, the former "Tonight Show" host, will be among the featured speakers at the Bohemian Grove encampment of rich and powerful men under the redwoods in Monte Rio.

Up to 2,500 Bohemian Club members and their guests will attend the all-male encampment that opened Thursday and runs through July 28, all in complete secrecy behind the gates of the San Francisco-based club's 2,700-acre enclave along the Russian River.

About 15 private jets, the conveyance for some of the plutocrats and powerbrokers, were parked Thursday at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, and more are expected to arrive today, airport manager Jon Stout said.

Bohemian Grove Through The Years

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McChrystal, the former commander of American forces in Afghanistan, will discuss "On Leadership" in one of the daily talks presented beside a small lake ringed by towering redwoods.

O'Brien's topic — "Success, Failure in Surviving the Media Revolution" — sounds a bit more serious than his patter on the NBC show or his current show, "Conan" on TBS.

Also in the lineup for the Lakeside Talks are Paul Otellini, who retired in May as CEO of Intel, speaking on "What My Life in Tech Taught Me"; Stanford University President John Hennessey ("The Coming Tsunami of Online Education"); and Jorge Quiroga, president of Bolivia ("South America After Chavez," referring to Hugo Chavez, the socialist president of Venezuela who died in March).

David Gergen, political commentator and former presidential adviser; Chris Matthews, political talk show host; and William Reilly, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, also will address the Bohemians.

The Lakeside Talks — which in the past have featured the likes of Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush, who in 1995 introduced his son George to the august crowd — were the object of protests launched by the Bohemian Grove Action Network in 1980.

Critics say they resent the midsummer frolics by the titans of the military-industrial complex, and fringe elements allege the Bohemians engage in satanic worship.

Club officials say its more like a group of guys "out in the woods having a good time."


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