Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng

Reporter

Asawin Suebsaeng is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. He has also written for The American Prospect, the Bangkok Post, and Shoecomics.com.

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A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Asawin came back to DC with hopes of putting his flimsy Creative Writing major, student newspaper tenure, and interest in human rights and political chicanery to some use. He started cutting his teeth at F&M's student-run weekly, The College Reporter, serving as editor in chief. He has interned at The American Prospect, been a reporter for the Bangkok Post, and scribbled for ShoeComics.com. His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

The Dumbest Thing You'll Read All Day About the Benghazi Suspect Capture

| Tue Jun. 17, 2014 1:08 PM EDT

On Tuesday, the Washington Post broke the news that US Special Operations forces—working alongside the FBI—captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of the suspected ringleaders of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks, during a raid in Libya over the weekend. You might remember Abu Khattala from his appearance in an October 2012 New York Times piece in which he hangs out with a reporter at a busy luxury hotel, drinking a strawberry frappe and mocking US and Libyan authorities.

This is the first time an accused perpetrator of the Benghazi assault has been apprehended, according to American officials. The raid was conducted following "months of planning," the Post reports, and Abu Khattala is now in US custody in a secure location outside Libya. There were no reported casualties in this operation. White House press secretary Jay Carney says that Abu Khattala's apprehension is not the end of the Benghazi investigation.

This seems like pretty good news. But cue some idiocy, courtesy of Joe Walsh, former Republican congressman and tea party favorite:

Really makes you think

UPDATE, June 17, 2014, 1:37 p.m. ET: Oh. Him.

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President Obama Plans To Do Something For LGBT Workers That No President Has Ever Done

| Mon Jun. 16, 2014 1:02 PM EDT

President Obama is planning on signing a new executive order preventing federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees, a White House official told the Associated Press on Monday. The order is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks and is an extension of previous orders banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin among federal contractors and subcontractors.

"The protections will reach over one million LGBT workers across the country, making it the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in our country's history," ThinkProgress reports.

The White House official would not say when Obama plans to sign the order, but confirmed that the president told his staff to prepare a measure for his signature. On Tuesday, the president will travel to New York for an LGBT fundraising gala with the Democratic National Committee.

Monday's announcement comes after years of pressure from gay rights groups calling for broader action on the issue. Last November, the Senate passed legislation banning workplace discrimination against LGBT workers, but the bill has since gone nowhere in the House.

What Does North Korea Have to Say About Seth Rogen and James Franco Trying To Kill Kim Jong Un in "The Interview"?

| Fri Jun. 13, 2014 5:00 PM EDT

UPDATE, June 22, 2014, 12:07 p.m. ET: A North Korean official has weighed in. "However, Kim Myong-chol, who is often described as an 'unofficial' spokesperson for the communist nation's 'supreme leader,' said the dictator would probably watch the movie anyway," the Guardian reports. (And here's Seth Rogen responding to that.)

"I am incredibly proud and a little bit frightened to present the first teaser for our next movie, [The Interview]," actor/director Seth Rogen tweeted on Wednesday. The reason he might have been a bit frightened was because of the film's plot. Here's the official synopsis of the movie, which is set for theatrical release on October 10:

In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show "Skylark Tonight." When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong Un.

In The Interview, the binge-drinking, Kobe Bryant-loving, human-rights-allergic ruler is played by Korean-American comedian Randall Park. Here's the trailer:

"We read as much as we could that was available on the subject," Rogen told Yahoo Movies. "We talked to the guys from Vice who actually went to North Korea and met Kim Jong Un. We talked to people in the government whose job it is to associate with North Korea, or be experts on it." Rogen also said that he and co-director Evan Goldberg asked North Korea experts to check the script for authenticity, because Rogen thought the truth about the dictatorship is "so crazy you don't need to make anything up." There is a joke in the trailer about how the regime once claimed that Kim Jong Un doesn't urinate or defecate; this is based on actual propaganda about his father Kim Jong Il.

North Korean officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the upcoming Rogen-Franco comedy that involves the pair trying to kill their leader. (It's really hard to get in touch with them.)

But as the film's release approaches, don't be too surprised if someone issues an angry statement. In 2005, shortly after the release of Team America: World Police, North Korea's embassy in Prague demanded that movie be banned in the Czech Republic, insisting that it harmed their country's reputation. Team America was made by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and uses a cast of puppets to satirize the war on terror, as well as liberal Hollywood. A Kim Jong Il puppet is the main villain.

Now, here is the new poster for The Interview:

The Interview film
Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

UPDATE 2, July 11, 2014, 4:29 p.m. ET: The North Korean government filed a complaint with the United Nations over The Interview. Read the letter, which labels the film as an act of war by the Obama administration, below. The State Department did not respond to my request for comment regarding North Korea's view that the upcoming Seth Rogen / James Franco comedy is an American act of war.

 

Ruby Dee Was a Badass

| Thu Jun. 12, 2014 5:51 PM EDT

On Wednesday, actress Ruby Dee passed away at the age of 91. Her long career brought her much acclaim and many honors, including an Academy Award nomination for her work in Ridley Scott's American Gangster. She, along with her late husband and fellow actor Ossie Davis, was also famous for her civil rights activism, which dated back to the 1950s.

Dee began attending protests as a child, joining picket lines to campaign against hiring discrimination. She and Davis emceed the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his landmark "I Have a Dream" speech. They rallied against apartheid in South Africa. In 1999, they were arrested while protesting the death of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant from Guinea, who was gunned down by four NYPD officers. And the list goes on.

"I never remember, like, saying, 'I'm gonna join the civil rights movement'—that's all I knew all my life, some aspect of it, even before it was called the civil rights movement," Dee once told an interviewer from the Archive of American Television. "When I first, years ago, saw my first picture of black men hanging from trees, well, I could scarcely know the meaning of things. Or, I remember things that stuck in my head, this family strung up and the woman was pregnant and they opened the belly up, the baby had fallen out...So I can't say that I joined [the civil rights movement]; I was born into it. Racism is a disease of democracy. Our country could be one of the greatest countries that god ever imagined, were it not for this thing of racism...This grand experiment that is America is tainted by racism and bigotry, and these kinds of hatreds...This ridiculous thing of racism."

Via New York's PIX11 News, here is footage of Dee in 1969 reading the names of young black men killed by police officers:

"Ruby Dee was…a woman who believed deeply in fairness, a conviction that motivated her lifelong efforts to advance civil rights," SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard said in a statement. "The acting community—and the world—is a poorer place for her loss."

 

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