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.

Report: The CIA Increasing Operations in Iraq

| Tue Mar. 12, 2013 2:30 PM PDT
Official agency portrait.

With the US military pretty much out, and with spillover from the conflict in Syria coming in, CIA operatives in Iraq are doing exactly what you'd expect them to do.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Central Intelligence Agency is ramping up support to elite Iraqi antiterrorism units to better fight al Qaeda affiliates, amid alarm in Washington about spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria, according to U.S. officials.

The stepped-up mission expands a covert U.S. presence on the edges of the two-year-old Syrian conflict, at a time of American concerns about the growing power of extremists in the Syrian rebellion. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist network's affiliate in the country, has close ties to Syria-based Jabhat al Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, an opposition militant group that has attacked government installations and controls territory in northern Syria...In a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the White House directed the CIA to provide support to Iraq's Counterterrorism Service, or CTS, a force that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, officials said.

[...]

This shift to the CIA [from the U.S. military] in Iraq also is in line with the Obama administration's goal of limiting the U.S. role in the Syrian conflict. The administration is providing nonlethal assistance to the [Syrian] opposition, but refuses to send weapons, in part to avoid aiding extremist elements among rebel forces.

There are roughly 220 American military personnel in Iraq currently working for the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq—and after several military sites get shut down, the number is expected to drop to about 130.

The CIA's ramped-up role comes nine months after officials signaled that the agency planned to cut its presence in Iraq to fewer than half that of wartime levels, when their station in Baghdad included over 700 agency personnel and ranked as the biggest CIA station on the planet. ("Right-sizing," as Obama aides called the CIA drawdown.) Still, as senior US officials made clear last year, Baghdad will of course remain one of the agency's largest stations in the world.

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Sarah Palin, Mother of "Dancing with the Stars" Alum, To Write Book About Christmas

| Tue Mar. 12, 2013 7:27 AM PDT

The AP has the story:

The former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor has a deal with HarperCollins for A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas, scheduled for November. HarperCollins announced Monday that the book will criticize the "over-commercialism" and "homogenization" of Christmas and call for a renewed emphasis on the religious importance.

"Amidst the fragility of this politically correct era, it is imperative that we stand up for our beliefs before the element of faith in a glorious and traditional holiday like Christmas is marginalized and ignored," [the author] said in a statement released through her publisher. "This will be a fun, festive, thought provoking book, which will encourage all to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our faith and ignore the politically correct Scrooges who would rather take Christ out of Christmas."

According to the publisher, the book will advocate "reserving Jesus Christ in Christmas — whether in public displays, school concerts (or) pageants."

The War-On-Christmas children's book is scheduled to be released November 2013, right around the same time Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is slated to hit theaters. The film is about a controversial product of the Reagan era who, after a brief run of achieving high-profile success and notoriety, suffers an epic public downfall and has since resigned to a life of writing poorly reviewed books.

 

Note: The title of this post is a loving homage to this.

What Would Jesus Do? Probably Keep Buying Ads During SNL

| Fri Mar. 8, 2013 2:57 PM PST

In mid-February, NBC's Saturday Night Live aired a video short promoting a fictional film titled "Djesus Uncrossed." The sketch was a loving, over-the-top spoof of several Quentin Tarantino works, including his 2012 Oscar-nominated revenge film, Django Unchained. SNL host Christoph Waltz (who won Best Supporting Actor at the 85th Academy Awards for his role in Django Unchained) plays a resurrected Jesus of Nazareth, who goes on a blood-soaked rampage against his Roman oppressors.

Here's the sketch:

And here's a screenshot of Waltz in character:

djesus uncrossed snl
"No more Mr. Nice Jesus," says Jesus. Via Hulu

This is just the latest satire in which the son of God is portrayed as a righteous ass-kicker doling out death and justice. For example, the Comedy Central animated series South Park has armed Jesus. Fox's Family Guy has depicted the savior in his underwear flying through the air with both barrels blazing John Woo-style, with Chris Tucker as his sidekick.

Study: Trolls on Twitter Do Not Necessarily Represent America, Are Partisan Cynics

| Tue Mar. 5, 2013 10:34 AM PST

A team at the Pew Research Center spent a whole year monitoring Twitter discourse on major American political events, and instead of falling into a deep depression they wrote a study about it.

The findings, published Monday under the title, "Twitter Reaction to Events Often at Odds with Overall Public Opinion," confirm—with lucid data—things you already know about Twitter if you have ever come into contact with Twitter: The popular micro-blogging site represents only a shred of American opinion, and trolls on Twitter tend to be vicious and unhappy.

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