Daily Archives: ஒக்ரோபர் 1, 2008

“Sold to Be Soldiers”


Harper’s Magazine (August 2008)
From interviews compiled in “Sold to Be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma,” issued last October by Human Rights Watch. The report found that conscription of boys under eighteen is a common practice to fulfill recruitment quotas in Burma’s nominally all-volunteer national army, the Tatmadaw Kyi, which is fighting various resistance groups in the country.

I was about eleven years old and a student. When I was returning from watching videos one night, there were no lights along the road to my house. I met two soldiers, and they arrested me for “hiding in the dark.” They took me to their army camp and asked me, “Do you want to join the army or go to Jail?” I was afraid of jail, so I said I’d join the army. They asked about my family, and they filled in a paper. They asked my age, so I told them the truth, but they wrote eighteen.

-Htun Myint

The elders stayed in separate barracks. One day, the corporal said to them, “You are all twentyfive years old.” One elder said, “Can I be a bit older than that?” and he said, “No.” Another elder said, “But I’m sixty already,” and the corporal kicked him. At training, out of 250, about 150 were underage and thirty were in their sixties. We had a nickname for their platoon-the “Stand and Watch Column.” They were unemployed men who were tricked by. being told, “We’ll find you a job and a place for your family,” and some had been arrested while walking home drunk at night. .

-Maung Zaw 00

I couldn’t do all the training. Even lifting the gun was too hard for me. The G3 assault rifle came up to my shoulder. But the trainers were sympathetic and understanding; they favored me and the other youngsters. In my platoon, about half were my age. The trainers said to the youngest, “We don’t want to train you, but it’s our duty, we have.orders,” I was missing my family, and I cried. For some parts of the training we young trainees were allowed to stay in the barracks, but then whenever people lost things we were blamed and punished by the camp authorities-five lashes with a bamboo stick-and I cried then too.

-My in Win

Only one person was caught trying to escape. All two hundred forty-nine others had to beat him on the buttocks and the back of his thighs with a green bamboo. I felt pity for my friend, so I hit him lightly, and the sergeant came and said, “Don’t hit like that, hit like this,” and hit me, and then made me hit my friend again. One hundred fifty recruits had already beaten him by then, and he was crying. The sergeant was pinning his arms down with his back to me, so I couldn’t see his face-he was facedown with his legs in the stocks. He was bloody because sometimes the sticks broke when they hit him. After the beating, the sergeants carried him to the barracks with his legs still in the stocks and laid him on the cement floor without a mat. He died that night. His name was Thet Naing Soe, he was eighteen. After that the sergeants said, “If you run away, we’ll do the same to you.”

-Sai Seng

We were ordered that if we see anyone we should shoot them. Our battalion commander himself said, “Shoot everyone you see and burn the village.” He didn’t exclude women and children, whomever we saw we were ordered to shoot. In summer we burned down trees-coconut, betel, cardamom. In the dry season we tried to burn the rice fields, and in the rainy season the battalion was ordered to trample the rice plants.

-Myin Win

I can’t remember how old I was the first time I was involved in fighting. About thirteen. That time we walked into a Karenni ambush, and four of our soldiers died. I was afraid because I was very young, so I tried to run back, but the captain shouted, “Don’t run back! If you run back, I’ll shoot you myself!”

-Aung Zaw

A Mass E-mail: Shouts & Murmurs

Courtesy: The New Yorker by Amy Ozols

Dear All:

Before I begin, I’d like to apologize for sending a mass e-mail.

I’m writing because I’ve lost my cell phone, and I’d really appreciate it if each of you could reply to this message with your phone number, home address, and any other pertinent information I might need to get in touch with you. I kept all that information in the cell phone that I lost. I never wrote it down on a piece of paper or in a book, or backed it up on a computer, because cell phones are historically quite dependable, and not prone to getting lost or stolen—at least, not where I come from, a place where there is neither crime nor personal failure. I come from Iceland.

I’d also appreciate it if you could send me your e-mail address. I already have your e-mail address, which I’m using to send the e-mail you’re currently reading, but I plan to delete it from my memory after I’ve finished typing, because I really prefer to keep this sort of thing in my cell phone. I find that it frees up my “brain space” for other important things, like meditation and prayer and comparing and contrasting the prices and features of various cell phones.

If it’s not too much trouble, I’d also like to know your birthday, preferably with the year included. This is so I can send you one of those electronic birthday cards. I’ll send it to your e-mail address, which I plan to enter into my future cell phone before subsequently losing it in a public rest room. So, actually, what would be really helpful is if you could let me know your birthday, then wait three weeks, then send me your e-mail address, so that I can store it in my two-phones-in-the-future phone for use on your next birthday. This probably seems like a lot of work, but I want to assure you that it will be well worth it, because your electronic birthday card will feature music, and dancing cartoon animals, and a not insignificant amount of whimsy. It won’t be one of those tacky electronic birthday cards, where there’s a half-naked person holding a cupcake or an elderly person farting on Father Time.

I assume that it goes without saying that I’ll also need your bank-account numbers, and any PIN or routing numbers associated with those accounts. Of course, I will also need your Social Security number. You have correctly guessed that this is for the purpose of large-scale identity theft.

Finally, please send me your pets. Not pictures of your pets. Your actual pets.

In closing, I’d like to reiterate how sorry I am for sending a mass e-mail. I wish I could have contacted each of you in person—it’s been waaaay too long since most of us have hung out! But, as I may have already mentioned, I plan to lose my new cell phone almost immediately after I buy it, so I really look forward to contacting each of you individually when that happens. Even though I have never met any of you.

Very sincerely yours,

The author of this e-mail

*Sent from my iPhone.

Why Tobacco Kills & How Cigarette Manufacturers ensure New Addicts?

Boston Legal: “Smoke Signals”:

Closing arguments

Michael Rhodes smoked cigarettes for 50 years, got lung cancer and died; we all know what happened here. We also all know this death. Everybody in this room knows somebody who has fought this same battle and dies … agonizing, brutal, excruciating …

But … emotion has no play here. Michael Rhodes was eleven years old when he started smoking, it was 1948. At that time, there was no known risk, and even if there were, at eleven he certainly lacked the capacity to assume it. And after that, he was addicted. They manufacture them to be addictive.

In just the last few years, they’ve increased the amount of nicotine in the average cigarette by 11.6% to make them even more addictive [1]. Recently, we learned that tobacco companies have been adding an ammonia-based compound to cigarettes for years to increase absorption of nicotine [2]. It’s basically the same principle used in crack cocaine.

And let’s look at the obscene strategy they’ve employed here. Smoking may cause cancer, but it didn’t cause this particular cancer. It wasn’t our cigarettes, or it was genetic, or asbestos or a paper mill. Never do they take responsibility ever. And God forbid, if you sue them, they’ll bury you and your lawyer. They might even depose your doctor to death, for good measure. All their insidious methods and cunning corporate tactics aren’t just history, it’s what they continue to do now, today. Because the tobacco industry is like a nest of cockroaches, they will always find a way to survive.

They still go after kids with one strategy after another. They put up brightly colored ads at kid’s eye level in convenience stores. They hire gorgeous twenty-somethings to frequent popular venues and seduce young adults into attending lavish corporate-sponsored parties. Cockroaches will always find a way.

They can’t advertise on TV but they’ve hired PR agencies to hook them up with the film industry. And it’s worked. Researchers estimate that smoking in movies delivers nearly 400,000 adolescent smokers every year [3]. Every time you try to kill the cockroach, it finds another way. It has to, because when you make a product that kills off your consumers, you have to find a way to recruit new customers.

They’ve now got a new feminized version of the macho Camel brand using slogans like “lite” and “luscious” with hot pink packaging. Virginia Slims advertised their “thin cigarette”. Allure Magazine did a whole spread on the cigarette diet [4]. They use social and psychological profiling [5], targeting potential smokers by gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, socioeconomic groups … cockroaches don’t discriminate.

Their CEO comes into this courtroom gloating over their anti-smoking campaign, which is designed to get kids to smoke. In 2003, they spent more than 15 billion on advertising and promotion [6]. That’s a 225% increase from 1998, and they have the audacity to declare they’re trying to discourage smoking. This is not how corporations with a conscience behave.

How in God’s name are cigarettes even legal, can anybody tell me that? They are a deadly concoction of carcinogens that damage every single organ in your body. Why do we not ban them? Because it’s a free country, because freedom of choice is an American ideal worth somebody dying every six seconds? How can any company, especially one with such a conscience no less, knowingly manufacture a product that poisons its users? … and make that product look cool and hip and sexy and fun, so they can get children. How can any attorney defend a company that would do such a thing and how could any society tolerate it, but we do.

There is no conscience at big tobacco. There is no conscience in Washington, which has been bought and paid for by this industry. Conscience has to come from you, the jury. If real regulation is to happen, it has to come from you. People are smoking day after day after day and dying and dying and dying and the tobacco companies keep getting richer and richer. Last year alone, they made 12 billion dollars in profits [7]. How can that be?

How can that be?


  1. Connolly et al. Trends in nicotine yield in smoke and its relationship with design characteristics among popular US cigarette brands, 1997-2005. Tob Control. 2007 Oct;16(5):e5.
    View abstract
  2. How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on America’s Kids and Consumers. American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 2008 Feb 20.
  3. Sargent, J. AAP Handout, October 2006. News release, American Academy of Pediatrics.
  4. Morris, L. “The Cigarette Diet.” Allure Magazine. 2000 Mar.
  5. Ling and Glantz. Using tobacco-industry marketing research to design more effective tobacco-control campaigns. JAMA. 2002 Jun 12;287(22):2983-9.
    View abstract
  6. Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report For 2004 and 2005. United States Federal Trade Commission. 2007
  7. Fortune Global 500 2007: Altria Group.

State of Women Leaders in USA – Padma Arvind

சென்ற பதிவின் தொடர்ச்சி

2. (கேள்வி கேட்டவர் ஸ்ரீதர் நாராயண்) சாரா பேலின் ஹிலாரியை விட வேகமாக இருக்கின்றாரே. பாட்டியாகும் விஷயத்தில்தான். 2012-ல் ஆல்-வுமன் அதிபர் தேர்தலாக ஆகக் கூடிய சாத்தியக் கூறுகள் எப்படி

நிச்சயம் இல்லை.

ஏதேனும் ஒரு பெண் வேட்பாளர் இருக்க கூடிய சாத்தியம் மட்டுமே இருக்க முடியும். சாராவிற்கு கிடைத்தது எதிர்பார்க்காத பரிசு, ஹிலரியின் ஆதரவு வாங்குகளை பெற மெக்கெயின் போட்ட ஒரு கணக்கு.

இங்கே அரசுத்துறையில் பெண் அதிபர்கள் வருவது இன்னமும் பரவல் ஆகவில்லை. அப்படி ஆகும் என்றும் எனக்கு தோன்றவில்லை. என்னை பொருத்தவரை அதிபராக நிர்வாக திறமைக்கு அதிக முக்கியத்துவம் தர வேண்டும் அல்லாது genderக்கு அல்ல.

எனக்கு சாராபேலின் பல கொள்கைகள் உடன்பாடில்லை, பெண் என்ற ஒரே காரணத்திற்காக அவரை ஆதரிக்க முடியாது.

3. மெகயினின் பிரச்சாரத்தில் எந்த நிலைப்பாடு உங்களுக்கு உவப்பானதாக அமைந்திருக்கிறது?

தற்போதைய ஆட்சியை அதிகம் குறை சொல்லாமல் அதிலும் சமீபத்திய பொருளாதார சரிவுக்கிடையில் சமாளிக்கும் முதிர்ச்சி. முட்டை ஓட்டின் மேல் நடப்பது போன்ற கவனத்துடன் கையாளும் நகைச்சுவை கூடிய பிரச்சாரம்.

4. உதட்டுச்சாயம், பன்றி மொழியைப் பரவலாக இரு ஆண் ஜனாதிபதி வேட்பாளரும் பயன்படுத்துகிறார்களே. சாரா பேலினையும் ஹில்லரி க்ளின்டனையும் இவர்கள் குறிப்பிடவில்லை என்றாலும் லிப்ஸ்டிக் தவிர வேறு பொருத்தமான அடைமொழி பயன்படுத்தி இருக்கலாமோ? முகஞ்சுளிக்க வைக்கிறதா? வேறு பேச்சுகள் ஏதாவது அதிர்ச்சி அடைய வைத்ததா?

அரசியல் என்றில்லை, பொதுவாகவே அலுவலகங்களில் கூட சில சமயங்களில் (குறிப்பாக பெண்கள் தலை பொறுப்பேற்கும்) இது போன்ற பிரயோகங்கள் சகஜமாக பயன்படுத்தப்படுகின்றன. முன்போல அல்லாமல், பெண்களும் பேசக்கேட்பது சகஜம், இங்கே (நியுஜெர்சி) நகரசபை கூட்டங்களில் சில சமயங்களில் இன்னமும் கேவலமாக பேசுவது மட்டும் இல்லாமல்,கைகலப்பில் எல்லாம் முடிந்திருக்கிறது.

ஆகக்கூடி பொதுவாழ்க்கை வருபவர்கள் ஆணானாலும் பெண்னானாலும் தடித்த தோலுடனான வாழ்க்கைக்கு பழகிக்கொள்ளத்தான் வேண்டும். இதில் முகம் சுளிக்க வைக்கவோ சினம் கொள்லவோ எதுவும் இல்லை. When you know it’s a pissing match, be ready with an umbrella is a common phrase!!

5. அடுத்த அதிபருக்கு நீங்கதான் ஆலோசகர். என்ன அட்வைஸ் கொடுப்பீங்க?