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.

"Spring Breakers" Sequel Will Include Drunk Teens Fighting Christian Militants

| Wed May 7, 2014 12:19 PM EDT

Spring Breakers, a 2013 film directed by Harmony Korine and starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens, is a boobs-and-blood-and-blow-filled Spring Break movie that has been described as "Scarface meets Britney Spears."

Well, it's getting a sequel, with Jonas Åkerlund (Spun) set to direct, and novelist Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) writing. Here's a description of the plot, via TheWrap:

The sequel will follow a group of Spring Breakers who do battle with an extreme militant Christian sect that attempts to convert them.

I can't imagine how the Christian right is going to react to this...

Here's a trailer for the original:

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Watch John Oliver Take on the Death Penalty on "Last Week Tonight"

| Mon May 5, 2014 5:13 PM EDT

On Sunday's episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver weighed in on the recent botched execution in Oklahoma, the president's response to it, and the death penalty in general. "The death penalty is like the McRib," Oliver says. "When you can't have it, it's so tantalizing. But as soon as they bring it back, you think, 'This is ethically wrong. Should this be allowed in a civilized society?'"

Here's more from Oliver:

It costs up to 10 times more to give someone the death penalty than life in prison. So what a death sentence is really saying is, "Hey! This is America! And the way we treat the most despicable members of our society is by spending the entire budget of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on them." So what we know now is the death penalty is expensive, potentially kills innocent people, and doesn't deter crime. And here is where it gets hard—harder than is potentially appropriate for a comedy show late on a Sunday night. But if we are going to answer difficult and profound questions...the toughest one is probably if someone is guilty of committing a horrible crime, and the family of the victim want the perpetrator executed, do we want to live in the kind of country that gives that to them? I would say no. You might, very reasonably, say yes...But it's a question that is going to need an answer.

The whole segment is very good. Check out the 12-minute clip:

Pink Floyd Members Urge the Rolling Stones Not To Perform in Israel

| Thu May 1, 2014 4:43 PM EDT
The Rolling Stones, live in Shanghai.

On Thursday, Pink Floyd founding members Roger Waters and Nick Mason issued a statement criticizing The Rolling Stones' decision to play a concert in Israel. The Rolling Stones are set to perform at Ramat Gan Stadium on June 10. The founders of prog-rock band Pink Floyd are supporters of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a global, pro-Palestinian campaign that aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel.

Here's an excerpt from the statement, published at Salon:

With the recent news that The Rolling Stones will be playing their first-ever concert in Israel, and at what is a critical time in the global struggle for Palestinian freedom and equal rights, we, the two surviving founders of Pink Floyd, have united in support of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a growing, nonviolent global human rights movement initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to end Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and denial of basic Palestinian rights.

[...]

So, to the bands that intend to play Israel in 2014, we urge you to reconsider. Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid; regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime...If you wouldn't play Sun City, back in the day, as you, the Rolling Stones did not, then don't play Tel Aviv until such time as freedom reigns for all and equal rights is the law of the land. 

Waters calling for artists to boycott Israel is nothing new. Last December, he compared Israel's policy towards Palestinians to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

A spokeswoman for the Rolling Stones did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bill Nye: "You Can Hate Me, You Can Hate Everything, But Science Education Is What Leads to Innovators"

| Wed Apr. 30, 2014 6:12 PM EDT

On Tuesday, Bill Nye (the Science Guy) appeared on NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers to tell the story of how he and Neil deGrasse Tyson ended up taking that "Presidential Selfie" with President Obama. During his appearance he also discussed his friendship with Tyson—how they get together and drink wine and talk about women and space exploration—and his recent debate with creationist Ken Ham, and the need for much more science literacy in America:

We want to raise awareness of science literacy, specifically, in this case, science illiteracy—striking science illiteracy. And the reason I bring this up, you can hate me, you can hate everything, but science education is what leads to innovators. It leads to that kooky internet that the kids use, their electric computer machines...The Facebooking, and the tweeting, and the Instagramming—all that would not exist without our understanding of science...And then we would not be able to feed this many people around the world without understanding science. So this is deeply important to me, and I hope that in the coming years awareness will be raised, and voters and taxpayers will not let these people with these...wrong views about nature...try to get on school boards.

Watch:

"I fight this fight out of patriotism," Nye told me last year, regarding his war on anti-science politics. "We can't have economic growth without basic investment in science and research. And we can't have irresponsible school board members in Texas teaching that the earth is 10,000 years old. We can't have us embracing scientific illiteracy."

"He's been instrumental in helping advance some of the president's key initiatives to make sure we can out-educate, out-innovate, and out-compete the world," an Obama administration official said. "The president lights up when he sees Bill," another official mentioned.

Now here's that "Presidential Selfie":

Bill Nye Neil deGrasse Tyson Barack Obama selfie
thescienceguy/Instagram

(H/t Mediaite)

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