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.

Steve McQueen Dedicated His "12 Years a Slave" Best Pic Oscar to Victims of Modern-Day Slavery

| Sun Mar. 2, 2014 10:51 PM PST

The powerful drama 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture at the 2014 Academy Awards. During his acceptance speech, director Steve McQueen dedicated the award to the tens of millions of people still in slavery today:

Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.

Some estimates put the number at 30 million. McQueen is a patron of Anti-Slavery International and met with US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power to discuss the fight against modern-day slavery. McQueen also made the point of 21 million modern-day slaves during an acceptance speech for best film at the BAFTAs.

Here's video (via Time) of McQueen's Oscar speech and 12 Years a Slave's big win:

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Film Review: Lunch Hour

| Fri Feb. 28, 2014 4:00 AM PST

Lunch Hour

BIRDSTREET PRODUCTIONS

"I know that I don't wanna eat it, and that I don't think it's healthy, but yet I'm serving it to 600 kids," a frustrated school official tells director James Costa, whose easily digestible 75-minute doc takes a hard look at the National School Lunch Program. Politicians, doctors, and administrators line up to discuss their war on artery-clogging meals, the obesity epidemic, heart disease, and the crap that ends up on kids' lunch trays. Lunch Hour doesn't deliver the wallop of, say, Fast Food Nation, but it packs enough outrage to make you dread your child's daily trip to the cafeteria.

This review originally appeared in our March/April 2014 issue of Mother Jones.

Liam Neeson is "Pissed Off" at Bill de Blasio Over Horses

| Thu Feb. 27, 2014 2:24 PM PST

On Wednesday night's episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Liam Neeson (star of the Taken movies, Schindler's List, and Battleship) revealed why he was a little "pissed off" at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The 61-year-old actor and New York resident wasn't mad at the new mayor for his socialist past or his leadership during winter storms. Neeson was upset over horses.

"He wants to close this horse and carriage industry in New York," Neeson said, referring to the mayor's goal to replace "inhumane" carriage horses with "vintage tourist-friendly vehicles in parks." Neeson also accused animal rights groups for spreading "false information" about the treatment of the horses in the city. (Neeson, whose close friend is a New York horse and carriage owner, previously wrote an intensely punctuated open letter to de Blasio on how he was "appalled to learn of [de Blasio's] intent to obliterate one of the most deep rooted icons of our city!")

Horse-drawn carriages have attracted controversy due to accusations of excessive harm to the animals. Carriage drivers of course vowed to fight a ban. Here is a clip of Stewart and Neeson's mini-debate, via TMZ:

This isn't the only cause Neeson is passionate about. The actor—recently famous for playing a good-natured CIA torturer who massacres ethnic stereotypes who kidnap his daughter—has a long history of working with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), including his work as a Goodwill Ambassador and his participation in a campaign to combat violence against children. And he once stripped almost completely naked to raise money for breast cancer research.

But of all his causes, this one might be getting him the most press. For years, Neeson has been vocal on the issue of New York's horse-drawn carriages, to the point that the Daily Caller asked in January, "Will Liam Neeson stand in the way of Bill de Blasio's horse carriage ban?" PETA has slammed Neeson over this. "Liam Neeson...has PETA wondering if one of his horses might have kicked him in the head," the organization wrote. In 2009, he issued a letter to city officials to rage against the "coordinated attempt by animal activists and a certain Queens council member to ban the industry from the city." Here's part of the letter, which you can read while keeping Neeson's voice in mind:

As a horse lover and rider, I am deeply disturbed by the unnecessary and misguided political and extreme rhetoric against the horse-drawn carriage industry and feel obliged to counter this action.

The horse-drawn carriage business is an iconic part of this city, employing hundreds of dedicated, hard-working men and women, caring for well-bred, well-trained horses and attracting tourists to New York City for over 100 years.

As a proud New York resident, I have personally enjoyed the beauty of Central Park on a daily basis for many years, and these horses are an undeniable integral part of that experience. The notion that a well-nourished horse pulling a carriage through Central Park is considered cruelty may fit in with animal activists' extremist view, but not with the rest of us. Surely we have a responsibility to protect commerce, especially one with such history, and one I truly feel helps define this city. May pragmatism prevail.

In 2009, Neeson made another appearance on The Daily Show—and discussed horses and carriages:

Neeson was also the star of the 2012 film The Grey, which was criticized by animal rights activists for smearing wolves as brutal and ravenous human-killers.

Mayor de Blasio's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, perhaps out of fear of Liam Neeson.

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