Author Kevin McKiernan poses with a little girl wearing thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark popular in Myanmar.

Since the early days of The Santa Barbara Independent, Kevin McKiernan’s words and photographs have given our town firsthand reports and compassionate insights on trouble spots around the globe. His reporting from places like Cuba, Northern Ireland, Turkey, El Salvador, China, and, most recently, Syria, have helped to keep us from falling into complacency. The Pulitzer-nominated photographer and filmmaker told us this week’s story arose from his first visit to Myanmar, but he’d “seen the movie before”— the one where the U.S. offers a military-dominated government arms, training, or intel in trade for promises to respect human rights. “How many times have we seen that Faustian bargain?” he asked.


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