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.

Republican Congressman Opposes Abortion Partly Because Male Fetuses Play With Their Genitals

| Tue Jun. 18, 2013 1:24 PM EDT

Well, okay then.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) US Congress

On Monday night, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.) contended that HR 1797—a bill the House is debating on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions 20 weeks post fertilization—didn't go far enough. Burgess, an Ob/Gyn by trade and all-around tea partier, argued passionately in favor of banning abortions at an earlier stage in pregnancy. Here's a snippet of what he said, via RH Reality Check:

There's no question in my mind...that a baby at 20 weeks after conception can feel pain...I thought the date was far too late...Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. They feel pleasure. Why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?

("Well, this is a subject that I do know something about," Burgess also asserted.)

Top medical experts in the US and UK dispute the Republicans' claim of fetal pain prior to the third trimester—the talking point at the heart of the proposed ban. But the part that caught the internet's attention was Burgess' odd "masturbating fetuses" logic. I've reached out to Rep. Burgess' office regarding his statements but I have not yet received a response.

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US Military Set To Train Women for Elite Combat Roles by 2015

| Tue Jun. 18, 2013 11:53 AM EDT

Pfc. Anna Ciamaichelo, I Battery, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, carrying the FIM-92 Stinger missile she is about to fire.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon is expected to announce that women will be allowed train for and potentially serve in elite combat positions in the US military, including the Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and other special ops forces. (In January, then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted a ban on women serving in combat roles, which made women eligible for another 238,000 jobs in the military.) According to details of the proposals obtained by the Associated Press, women will be able to train for the Army Rangers by mid-2015 and for the Navy SEALs in 2016 if senior leaders sign on. The AP reports:

[The plan will] call for requiring women and men to meet the same physical and mental standards to qualify for certain infantry, armor, commando and other front-line positions across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reviewed the plans and has ordered the services to move ahead...Military leaders have suggested [to Hagel] bringing senior women from the officer and enlisted ranks into special forces units first to ensure that younger, lower-ranking women have a support system to help them get through the transition...U.S. Special Operations Command is coordinating the matter of what commando jobs could be opened to women, what exceptions might be requested and when the transition would take place.

The proposals leave some wiggle room for continued exclusion of women from certain roles if future studies indicate that women would somehow be significantly less equipped for these positions. The services would, however, have to defend the continued exclusion to top Pentagon officials, and common sense and the success of women already serving in tough jobs in the US military have long discredited such arguments.

News of this proposal comes after a series of stories in recent months highlighting the startlingly high number of sexual assaults and incidents of harassment in the US armed forces. In January, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a press conference that he was convinced that rampant sexual misconduct in the ranks exists partly because women have been so long subordinated to men in American military culture, and hadn't been permitted to serve officially in military combat roles including special operations forces. "It's because we've had separate classes of military personnel," Dempsey said. "The more we can treat people equally, the more likely they are to treat each other equally."

"Veep" Creator Armando Iannucci on Why He'd Never, Ever Allow Joe Biden on the Show

| Sat Jun. 15, 2013 6:25 AM EDT

Armando Iannucci, with his Order of the British Empire medal at Buckingham Palace.

Armando Iannucci, the acclaimed satirist and creator of the HBO comedy Veep, is a self-described longtime politics geek. When he was growing up in a Scottish-Italian household in Glasgow, he stayed up late to watch American election results—the first US presidential election he watched with a budding fascination was in 1976, when Carter trumped Ford. His childhood attraction to observing UK and US politics evidently carried over into adulthood. The 49-year-old writer/director has a number of well-regarded political satires under his belt, and he's influenced such comic darlings as Sacha Baron Cohen, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Ricky Gervais.

Since the mid-1990s, Iannucci has been noted for a patented mold of rollicking commentary—a brand of comedy that takes mischievous deromanticization of political elites, and filters it through his rapid-fire sardonicism. (Prime examples are his work in British television including The Day Today and The Thick of It, and the latter's brilliant 2009 spin-off film In the Loop.) Many of his scripts are famous for their blitzes of carefully constructed, linguistically acrobatic profanity that's acidic enough to qualify as minor human rights abuses.

How The National Guard Is Using "Man of Steel" To Recruit You

| Fri Jun. 14, 2013 6:05 AM EDT

Man of Steel (Warner Bros., 143 minutes) is a commendable, if patently flawed, summer blockbuster. The highly anticipated Superman reboot, starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams, merges the strengths and styles of its director Zack Snyder and its producer Christopher Nolan with mixed results. But the parts of the film that are exhilarating roundly compensate for the many parts of the film that are boring as all hell (dulled passion, bland dialogue, blander interactions).

Putting all that aside, one of the most fascinating things about this movie is how blatantly littered with product placement it is—roughly $160 million in product placement and promotions went into its makers' coffers. Man of Steel has over 100 global marketing partners, surpassing Universal's 2012 animated flick The Lorax, which reportedly had 70 partners. So if you have forgotten recently to eat at IHOP or shop at Sears, this film will remind you to do so in big letters.

But the film also doubles as advertisement for an employer arguably more noble than IHOP: The National Guard of the United States.

Here's behind-the-scenes footage released in May by the National Guard regarding their work with Snyder and Warner Bros.

"This Is the End": It's "Left Behind" for Potheads

| Wed Jun. 12, 2013 5:18 PM EDT
Left to right: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride.

This Is the End
Columbia Pictures
85 minutes

You remember Left Behind, don't you? It's the Christian-apocalypse film series (based on the books) starring conservative activist and former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron. The three film adaptations are critically panned train wrecks that portray the Rapture by casting a fictional United Nations secretary general as the Antichrist.

There is quite literally no fathomable reason for you to watch the Left Behind movies. But do go see This Is the End, which is essentially the same thing, only instead of bizarre and awful politics, there's Emma Watson brandishing a gigantic ax.

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