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.

Republicans Won't Stop Trying to Name Ocean Waters After Ronald Reagan

| Thu Aug. 1, 2013 6:23 PM EDT

The saga continues. Via The Hill:

Republicans and Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee argued colorfully Wednesday over a GOP bill that would name 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean after the late President Ronald Reagan.

The panel is weighing Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) bill that would rename the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which generally extends from 3 miles to 200 miles offshore, as the Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone.

"While certain left-wing organizations have characterized this legislation as trivial, there is no debate our 40th president served with the highest distinction," said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), speaking in favor of the bill that honors Reagan's 1983 designation of the EEZ.

Republicans in Congress have been at this for a while now. It keeps with their pattern of attempting to name virtually everything in sight after our 40th president. In 1998, Washington National Airport was officially renamed, via legislation, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, even though it was already named after a man who most credible historians can agree was a considerably superior president to Reagan. Deification has reached such a point that during the 2012 Republican National Convention, rumors swirled that the convention's "mystery speaker" was going to be a hologram of Reagan. (It turned out to be a non-hologram version of fellow actor Clint Eastwood instead, to the disappointment and anger of many.)

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Liam Neeson Joins UNICEF's Campaign To Stop Violence Against Children, Citing "Taken" As Inspiration

| Thu Aug. 1, 2013 4:33 PM EDT

Liam Neeson.

Actor Liam Neeson—recently famous for playing a good-natured CIA torturer who massacres ethnic stereotypes who've kidnapped his daughter—has a long history of working with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In 1997, Neeson was the celebrity face of Change for Good, a partnership between UNICEF and international airlines. Since then, he has traveled to Mozambique in support of HIV and AIDS prevention programs, and became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2011.

And this week, UNICEF began promoting their new public service announcement starring Neeson. The PSA is part of a campaign to combat violence against children around the world, from gang rape to cyber-bullying. "As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, I have long followed the issue of violence against children and the devastating impact it has on children, families and communities," Neeson said. "It was a topic that became increasingly real to me as a child growing up in Ireland and during the filming of Taken, which focuses on one aspect of violence and abuse against children in the form of trafficking and sexual exploitation." (Neeson has lent his time and celebrity to a number of causes and charities, including that time he stripped almost completely naked to raise money for breast cancer research.)

Watch the PSA here:

"By generously giving his time and talent...Liam Neeson helped garner attention to UNICEF's #ENDviolence initiative," Marissa Buckanoff, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, told Mother Jones in an email. "His compassion and dedication to the issue will make a real difference in children's lives as this powerful video message is one more way to urge everyone...to join forces and make the invisible visible and help stop violence against children."

Other celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors include "Twitter Nazi hunter" Mia Farrow and Orlando Bloom. UNICEF works with famous entertainers on a regular basis; for instance, pop singer Katy Perry traveled with the organization to visit slums and villages in Madagascar earlier this year.

Here's Why Some People Think the Smurfs Are Jew-Hating Communists

| Wed Jul. 31, 2013 3:58 PM EDT

Smurfette Katy Perry invades Czechoslovakia.

The Smurfs 2
Columbia Pictures
105 minutes

Ever since The Smurfs—the Belgian TV and cartoon franchise—kicked off in 1958, the little blue creatures have gained an enviable international presence. The Smurfs have been on money. They've been featured in a UNICEF ad campaign in which the peaceful Smurf village is indiscriminately carpet bombed. And in summer 2011, the big-screen Smurfs adaptation, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Sofía Vergara, was a box-office hit; the Smurfs even got to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

And with The Smurfs 2 hitting theaters this week, it's a good time to revisit another important piece of the Smurf legacy: The lovable blue-skinned animals might also be rabid totalitarians and raging anti-Semites.

The Onion Predicts Real Life: Republicans Block NASA's Asteroid Plan

| Tue Jul. 30, 2013 4:45 PM EDT

President Obama's plan to have NASA lasso an asteroid, tow it toward Earth, place it into the moon's orbit, and claim the space rock for the United States of America has hit a congressional snag. The New York Times reports:

NASA wants to launch an unmanned spacecraft in 2018 that would capture a small asteroid — maybe 7 to 10 yards wide — haul it closer to Earth, then send astronauts up to examine it, in 2021 or beyond.

But the space agency has encountered a stubborn technical problem: Congressional Republicans...[T]he science committee in the Republican-controlled House voted to bar NASA from pursuing that faraway rock. In a straight party vote — 22 Republicans for, 17 Democrats against — the committee laid out a road map for NASA for the next three years that brushed aside the asteroid capture plan, the centerpiece of the Obama administration's agenda for space exploration. The plan, instead, included new marching orders, telling NASA to send astronauts back to the Moon, set up a base there and then aim for Mars (and to do so with less money than requested).

Not only would the asteroid-lasso initiative have astronauts travel to the space rock to conduct mining operations and test technology for missions to Mars—it would allow NASA to research strategies for deflecting future, potentially world-ending asteroids.

In a way, the Times got scooped on this story. By the Onion. More than two years ago:

The Onion asteroid obama
The Onion

The Onion, one of America's leading satirical news outlets, has predicted the future before. Al Qaeda squabbling with 9/11 truthers, for instance. Or the Onion's piece on George W. Bush ushering in an era of war and economic recession...published in January 2001.

House Republicans Defund the Nonexistent ACORN, Yet Again

| Tue Jul. 30, 2013 11:49 AM EDT

Unkillable?

In the Friday the 13th film series, psycho killer Jason Voorhees lumbers around destroying lives with his machete. He is seemingly indestructible, reanimating even though he dies at the end of almost every movie in which he appears. The sexy teens (the flawed protagonists of this horror-flick franchise) are thus charged with brutally killing Jason again and again, time after time, no matter what.

That's how House Republicans view ACORN, the defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (a longtime boogeyman for the right). It's Jason, and John Boehner is a sexy teen. For years, conservatives accused the defunct organization of a fictional large-scale voter fraud plot. In actuality, ACORN was a New Orleans-based nonprofit that advocated for low-income families on issues such as predatory lending and public education.

The Huffington Post reports:

The House GOP quietly blocked funding for ACORN last week, even though the anti-poverty organization has long since been both defunded and disbanded.

The legislative assault on ACORN, which shut down in 2010, was included in a Department of Defense appropriations bill that cleared the House on Thursday...Section 8097 of the bill reads, "None of the funds made available under this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries."

[...]

[T]he House GOP votes to defund ACORN all the time. Nearly every bill that clears the House Appropriations Committee includes a section barring the use of funds for ACORN, although the specific language varies among different bills.

ACORN, which was dissolved in 2010, could not be reached for comment.

After the 2012 presidential election, Public Policy Polling found that 49 percent of Republicans believed that ACORN had stolen the election for Barack Obama, a drop from 52 percent who believed ACORN had stolen the 2008 election for Obama. "This is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn't exist anymore," PPP determined. Nearly eight months after that poll was released, ACORN still does not exist.

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