banquet table with served food and cutlery

The Wednesday Politics Thread Feasts on the Future

Good morning and welcome to your Wednesday Politics Thread, assembled a couple days early over precious yet weak WiFi in advance of a trip-within-a-trip to Zanzibar from my current location in Dar es Salaam. Utterly drenched in patriarchal tradition and imposition among in-laws — where doing the dishes in the middle of the night as a (relatively) elder male is a minor revolution — my life has become a balancing act between coping irreverence and necessary diplomacy. There may have been too much wine leading to rants about toxic masculinity and traditional gender roles. I regret nothing.

Born Under Putin, Dead Under Putin: Russia’s Teenage Soldiers Dying in Ukraine

Igor enlisted in February 2021, shortly before Yulia realized she was pregnant. A little over a year later, he was killed in heavy fighting outside Kharkiv amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He was seven months short of his 20th birthday.

The Russian teenagers killed in Ukraine belong to the so-called “Putin generation” of those who were born under President Vladimir Putin’s 22-year rule.

“Kids! We’re kids. They took us at 18 years old!” one group of furious soldiers apparently serving in the Russian army in an an attack on the Ukrainian town of Sumy shouted into a video camera last month. “The Russian Defense Ministry has no idea about us, or what we’re doing here, they’re throwing us directly into this s***.”

The Moscow Times [archive]

Trafficking fears as lone Ukrainian children arriving in UK to live with unrelated adults

Lone children fleeing Ukraine are being housed with adults under the UK’s refugee schemes scheme without proper checks taking place, The Independent can reveal.

More than 200,000 Britons have signed up to the government programme which allows UK sponsors to “match” with Ukrainians fleeing the war. In total 1,200 refugees have arrived under the scheme so far, while a further 10,800 have come under the family scheme, which allows Ukrainian refugees to join relatives in Britain.

But while the government claims unaccompanied children are not eligible for either scheme, The Independent is aware of cases in which minors have been granted visas and arrived in the UK without a legal guardian.

Authorities warn that gaps in the vetting process mean cases are “falling through the net”, prompting concerns about exploitation and trafficking, with more than 4.5 million Ukrainian children displaced in recent weeks, some of whom have been separated from parents and family.

The Independent [archive]

Morocco Inaugurates International Centre for Research on Prevention of Child Soldiers

Speaking at the inaugural conference of the Centre, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad, Nasser Bourita stated that the creation of the Center, was to contribute to the debate by formulating concrete proposals for the security-development and coordination of efforts of the international community.

Mr. Bourita further called for an end to impunity for those responsible for the recruitment and criminal use of children and other grave violations, by supporting systematic UN monitoring and reporting of child rights violations in conflicts.

He stated that the proportion of children living in conflict zones who are at risk of recruitment and use by armed groups has tripled from less than 5% in 1990 (99 million children) to more than 14% in 2020 (337 million children).

“The problem of child soldiers is neither marginal nor circumstantial and contrary to popular belief, this phenomenon is not exclusive to Africa,” he added, noting that children take part in 75% of conflicts in the world, more than 460 million children live in a conflict zone in 2022 and more than 15% of child soldiers are girls.

The International Center for Research on the Prevention of Child Soldiers will join efforts with United Nations agencies, international and regional organizations, international networks and civil society to develop a common research program in order to address the vulnerability of children who are exploited and used in armed conflicts.

Ghana News Agency [archive]

As a science journalist I’m reconsidering having kids. I’m not the only one

[…] there is a flurry of new books that each grapple with having and raising children now. The climate crisis and the question of what “we owe to the planet when it comes to adding another human to it” is one of the key considerations in Gina Rushton’s new book, The Most Important Job in the World. Rushton, an Australian journalist who decided years earlier that she did not want children, is prompted by a medical emergency to interrogate her choice with journalistic rigour.

She spends precisely nine months interviewing, reading and reflecting on the exigencies and implications of motherhood: on reproductive rights and justice, on its physical and emotional costs, on whether it is possible to “let ourselves imagine any future without being overpowered by despair or manipulated by hope”.

There is an uncomfortable cognitive dissonance in wanting to bring children into an increasingly uninhabitable world, but often it is not enough to nullify the wanting. This was the case for Sian Prior, a writer and broadcaster who worked for the Australian Conservation Foundation in the 1980s. Her new memoir, Childless: A Story of Freedom and Longing, conveys the sense of “failure and disappointment” familiar to women who want to have their own biological children but are unable to. She describes the sensation of “solastalgia” – the existential distress of environmental collapse, or “how you feel when something in the natural world is being destroyed before your very eyes”.

[…] Mothertongues, “an experimental book of bio-autofiction about motherhood” co-authored by Australian-based writers Ceridwen Dovey and Eliza Bell […] is formally eclectic, bringing together an assemblage of recollections, notes, messages, songs and poems. The vignettes – which both recall and explicitly mention Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation – parallel the life of a mother to young children, which is “made of non sequiturs, fragments, interruptions, stories that go nowhere”. Environmental worries feature, minorly: “They found a plastic bag at the bottom of the Mariana Trench’’; “how about we talk about … what it feels like to have a child when the apocalypse is on the horizon?”

The Guardian [archive]

Wishing you all well this midweek as this “vacation” restricts my comfy camaraderie in doomscrolling amongst you wonderful lot. Continue to be your best selves and leave the heavy lifting to the mods. Also, no kissing the smooching robots back — they’re still a thing right? 😒😘