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.

Can a "Sharknado" Really Happen?

| Thu Jul. 11, 2013 3:53 PM EDT
Sharknado
Courtesy of Syfy

"Global warming IS the reason…"

So exclaims a local TV news reporter as a sharknado—a climate-change-abetted windstorm that sucks in an armada of malevolent sharks—approaches the heart of Los Angeles. As the sharknado descends, the cyclone starts flinging horrifying sharks at an innocent public and Tara Reid. The only logical way to defeat a sharknado is with chainsaws, shotguns, handguns, helicopters, crudely made bombs, and selfless acts of brawny heroism.

Sharknado, which premieres Thursday, July 11 at 9 p.m. Easter/Pacific on Syfy, is a movie for our times. Not only does it address the hotly political issue of climate change, it also features a store owner who claims that the National Security Agency—the gigantic entity that Edward Snowden pissed off—is responsible for generating and unleashing sharknados on the American people. (The female journalist, not the small businessman, is right, though this doesn't turn out to be much comfort to her, since she gets devoured by a shark during a live broadcast.)

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"The Bridge": A Serial Killer Drama That's Also About Immigration Politics, Corruption, and Human Trafficking

| Wed Jul. 10, 2013 9:46 PM EDT

If you've heard of The Bridge, chances are good that you've heard it favorably compared to two cable-TV powerhouses: The Wire and Homeland. Given the fact that both are critical darlings—and that the former is frequently heralded as the greatest thing to ever happen on TV—this likely puts a hunk of pressure on creators Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid. (Stiehm is herself an alumnus of the Homeland writers' room.) But if The Bridge's first three episodes are any indication, it might just have a shot at measuring up.

The new series (premiering Wednesday, July 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX) is a loose adaptation of the eponymous Danish/Swedish cop drama, which revolves around the murders of a Swedish politician and a Danish prostitute, and the subsequent murders. The cross-border premise was intriguing enough to warrant an upcoming British/French version, as well. The American incarnation kicks off at the Bridge of the Americas, a border crossing between Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, where the remains of a controversial, anti-immigration American judge and a Mexican prostitute have been dumped. El Paso detective Sonya Cross (the reliably awesome Diane Kruger) and Chihuahua state police officer Marco Ruiz (the Oscar-nominated Demián Bichir) arrive on the scene to find the body parts literally straddling the painted border line. As the body count rises, and a mysterious man takes responsibility for the slayings, the detectives find themselves working closely together, in both jurisdictions. Ruiz is the troubled family man resisting the temptations of drug-cartel bribery, and Cross is the by-the-book hard case with Asperger's. She is attentively watched over by her boss, Lt. Hank Wade (Ted Levine, who has a fair share of experience with detective shows and serial killers).

What may at first sound like another tired, gritty, and gimmicky police procedural briskly evolves into something sprawling and timely. The series examines the real-world problems of Juárez—an area where the drug war and killing is so bad that local businesses demand UN peacekeeping forces. The show offers a panorama of law enforcement officers, journalists, immigrants, drug lords, and ordinary citizens whose lives collide during the murder spree. And the butcher at the center of all this is a (supposedly) high-minded serial killer who uses slaughter to make social and political points: Will well-off American society pay more attention to the daily horrors south of the border if he brings that reality to the nation's doorstep? 

The Bridge unfolds as an intense, thoughtful look at human trafficking, drug cartels, police corruption, immigration, poverty, and border tensions—all wrapped up nicely in the form of a buddy-cop show.

Check out this TV spot for the new series:

Click here for more TV and film coverage from Mother Jones.

To read more of Asawin's reviews and culture reporting, click here.

Report: Congressional Intel Committees Delay Aid to Syrian Rebels

| Tue Jul. 9, 2013 1:25 PM EDT

The House and Senate intelligence committees are reportedly holding up the Obama administration's recently announced plan to send arms and military hardware to rebels at war with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The main—and obvious—reason? Fear of weapons falling into the hands of unfriendly Islamist militants.

Reuters has the story:

None of the military aid that the United States announced weeks ago has arrived in Syria, according to an official from an Arab country and Syrian opposition sources.

Democrats and Republicans on the committees worry that weapons could reach factions like the Nusra Front which is one of the most effective rebel groups but has also been labeled by the United States as a front for al Qaeda in Iraq...Funding that the administration advised the Congressional committees it wanted to use to pay for arms deliveries to Assad's opponents has been temporarily frozen, the sources said...Anti-Assad groups have been calling for more advanced weaponry since the government launched a new offensive in central Syria with the help of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah...Over the weekend, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood said it felt "abandoned and disappointed" that the United States and Europe had failed to deliver rebels promised military support.

According to national security sources, the committee members want to learn more about the administration's overall policy and arms-delivery plan before they decide on unfreezing funding. The State Department and Senate Intelligence Committee have not responded to Mother Jones' requests for comment, and the House Intelligence Committee had no immediate comment on the story.

How Disney and Johnny Depp Dealt With "The Lone Ranger" Racism Problem

| Sat Jul. 6, 2013 1:23 PM EDT

"[The] Native American community…is so behind this movie, it's fantastic," producer Jerry Bruckheimer said in a recent interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Bruckheimer was there promoting The Lone Ranger (Walt Disney Pictures, 149 minutes), a film released on Wednesday that he made with Gore Verbinski, a director who previously worked with Bruckheimer on the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The Lone Ranger, starring Armie Hammer as the title character and Johnny Depp as his Comanche partner Tonto, is a $250 million big-screen adaptation of the famous American western franchise of the same name. (Click here to listen to the classic Lone Ranger theme song, which you've probably had committed to memory since you were a kid.) The new film, and past incarnations, show the Lone Ranger and Tonto combating injustice in the Wild West. The movie has an exciting, perfectly worthwhile start and finale (each showcasing a prolonged action sequence with fast trains), but it's ultimately dragged down by a two-hour stretch of soporific, mismanaged middle. So the film was critically panned, but it has received some surprisingly positive press coverage for something many assumed would be its primary hurdle.

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