August Monthly Gathering – WHAT is Happening in Russia???

(Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images, Contributor/Getty Images, Alexey Furman/Getty Images, Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images)

Russia’s war in Ukraine was supposed to be a quick and overwhelming invasion that would topple the western-looking Ukrainian state and bring it into line. Now, nearly eighteen months later, and with forty countries financially backing Ukraine, and Putin facing mutiny and the growing likelihood of needing to call up more reserves, it is difficult to see when or how the war will end.  

This talk will examine how the Russian state has portrayed and uses history to justify the war.  It will also discuss Putin’s perceived hold on power and Russia’s foreign policy objectives, both with its neighbors and with the west, and internal unrest, especially within the military. Finally, it will dive into the current state of the war and outline some possible outcomes for the war and the Russian state.  

Leading us in this discussion will be Dr. Aaron Retish, Wayne State Professor of Russian history. Dr Retish is a specialist in late Imperial and Soviet history with a focus on the social, cultural, and political history of the countryside. He is the author of Russia’s Peasants in Revolution and Civil War: Citizenship, Identity, and the Creation of the Soviet State, 1914-1922, as well as articles on violence in the Revolutionary era, local courts and penal reform and has broader research interests in law and punishment, gender and ethnicity in the Soviet era. He co-edits Revolutionary Russia, the leading journal in its field. He also serves on the Board of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and is associate editor of its journal The Volunteer. Retish teaches courses in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet history and politics, as well as world and modern European history. He received his BA from The University of Wisconsin-Madison and his MA and PhD from Ohio State.

Please note that this program will be presented live and on Zoom. You can attend the live presentation, for a chance to also mingle with your fellow Mensans and guests, at our usual location:

Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield
23925 Northwestern Highway
Southfield, MI 48075

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). The program begins at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). Admission: $4 for Mensa Members, $6 for non-Mensans. 

Following the presentation, please join us for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza, located at 31646 Northwestern Highway, in Farmington Hills, just northeast of Middlebelt Road.

If you’d prefer to participate on Zoom, you’ll need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: , The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will only be sent to those who are pre-registered. The Zoom room opens at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). for mingling. There is no charge for the Zoom presentation.

Please note that starting with the September monthly gathering, admission prices for the live presentation will increase to $5 for Mensa Members, $6 for non-Mensans. Checks will no longer be accepted at SEMM events.

January Monthly Gathering – Vladimir Putin: Corrupt! Competent! Environmentalist(?)!

Until the weather becomes more predictably amenable to meeting in person, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of free lectures on Zoom. Attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: . The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be sent to those who are pre-registered, about an hour before the presentation. The number of attendees may be limited, so please pre-register early. 

Let’s take a look at the career of Vladimir Putin, an autocrat who publisher Henry Quinlan, this month’s speaker, describes as corrupt, yet competent, and (Yes!) an environmentalist! While many in the West look at Putin as unscrupulous and dictatorial, among the Russians his approval rating in July 2020 was 60%! Russia’s high confidence in Putin has been the result of numerous positive achievements under his leadership. For instance, who would believe that Russia may well become a leading producer of food? It’s a real possibility, and one of many results of Putin’s competence. But there are also reasons for wariness on the part of the West. 

Mr. Quinlan’s presentation will include a full examination of:

  • Putin’s policies and actions that could lead to a new “Cold War!”
  • The opening of the Northern Passage and its impact on international trade.
  • The points of conflict within the Arctic Council and the Paris Accords.
  • The role of China in supporting Russia’s goals.
  • Putin’s environmental concerns and actions
  • The significance to the rest of the world of growth in Russia’s Autonomous Jewish Region, after years of decline.
  • What’s in Russia’s future.

Henry M. Quinlan has been involved with the former Soviet Union and Russia since 1986 and has made more than 60 round trips. He lived in Moscow from 1990 to 1995, and witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last question to Quinlan in an FBI interview in 2016: “How does it feel to be a buddy of Putin’s?”

Mr. Quinlan is owner and publisher of Omni Publishing Company, and has 40+ years of varied experience publishing books. He is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School.  Notable among the books that he published are: “My Life in Space” by Wally Schirra; “Rebound” by KC Jones, coach of the Boston Celtics; “My Dad the Babe”by Babe Ruth’s daughter Dorothy Ruth Pirrone; “The Cops are Robbers” by Kevin Stevens, which was featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and made into an HBO movie.

While engaged in a publishing venture in the former Soviet Union, Mr. Quinlan was asked by President George H.W. Bush to organize the publishing of the children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings” in Russia in 1991, and the erection of the statues, “Make Way for Ducklings” in Moscow.

Sound interesting? Join us on January 15 to learn more about Vladimir Putin, perceptions of him from inside Russia, and Russia’s evolving role in the world community. The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm.If you’d like to participate, YOU’LL NEED TO PRE-REGISTER by clicking on the following link: . The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be displayed on the page when you register and sent to you by email.