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.

Foreign Policy Experts React To The "Red Dawn" Remake

| Tue Nov. 20, 2012 5:17 PM EST
Paid For By The Committee For Good-Looking Young People Against Totalitarian Foreigners.

Well, Hollywood has remade Red Dawn, and the foreign-policy wonk community is baffled.

The 1984 original (directed by John Milius) depicts the trials and triumphs of the Wolverines, an all-American teen guerilla squadron that defends Colorado against invading Soviet, Sandinista, and Cuban forces. (The film was so culturally influential in the United States that the 2003 operation to capture Saddam Hussein was named after it.) The 2012 version takes place in Spokane, Washington. Barack Obama is president, and the attack is happening on his watch. The remake updates the villains to North Korean troops—aided by Putin's Russia—who conquer large chunks of America with their warplanes, electromagnetic pulse machine, and use of anti-Wall Street propaganda.

The North Koreans. These guys. (It's important to remember that the film is not satire, and that the last movie to portray the North Koreans as an existential threat to the US was Team America: World Police.)

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"Super PAC" Makes It Into the Dictionary

| Fri Nov. 16, 2012 7:24 PM EST

It finally happened: The term "Super PAC" will be added to the dictionary. Politico reports that the term is expected to appear in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. The publication also talked to the woman responsible for the coinage:

/Shutterstockanaken2012/Shutterstock

Eliza Newlin Carney, the reporter who first coined the term in print on June 26, 2010, while working at National Journal...never imagined that a word she made up would find its way inside the big book. "I had a feeling it'd catch on, but not like this," said Carney, now with Roll Call...The term replaces the far more technical "independent expenditure-only political action committee."

"Super PAC" will appear along with other recently approved words, including "energy drink," "sexting," "mash-up," "game changer," "gastropub," "man cave," the Oprah-coined "aha moment," and "f-bomb."

Super-PACs have spent upward of $700 million during the 2012 elections, and have attracted nearly endless controversy. Here's a frame of reference to demonstrate just how relevant they were to this election season: In 2012, the New York Times published the term "super PAC" 1,126 times between January 1 and November 15. In 2010, the paper only published it three times.

If You Must See "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2," Bring Booze

| Fri Nov. 16, 2012 3:22 PM EST

Rest assured, they all break out into Gangnam Style shortly.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Summit Entertainment
115 minutes

For the past four years, the Twilight franchise has been America's abortion-hating, abstinence-promoting insane ex-girlfriend who won't go away and won't stop stealing all your worldly possessions and patience. The final installment in the adaptations of the Stephenie Meyer tween fantasy book horror-show is, unsurprisingly, no exception.

As the series trundles toward its box-office-goosing conclusion, it's now virtually impossible to give half a damn about the fate of the central characters. After four novels, four prequels, and godless piles of fan fiction, Bella, Edward, Jacob, etc. are all fully developed as the wafer-thin archetypes they have always been. Twilightmentum has burrowed so deeply itself into our culture and national consciousness that our Supreme Court nominees are actually asked about it during their confirmation hearings.

There is, quite simply, nowhere else for the series to go but down a tedious, two-hour road to the inevitable happily-ever-after.

Breaking Dawn - Part Deux takes an extraordinarily talented director (Bill Condon, whose work includes Gods and Monsters and Dreamgirls) and reduces him to choreographing Playstation-grade melees and monotonous vampire sex. The dialogue is so stodgy it's a miracle it wasn't legally classified as a hypnotic drug. (Bella screaming "SOME STUPID WOLFY CLAIM!" right before drop-kicking Jacob is the highpoint.) The acting is so epically phoned, the vamp-and-werewolf emoting so markedly blah, it's hard not to think everyone on camera is grateful for this to finally be done. (This goes just as much for the especially adept actors—Michael Sheen, Billy Burke, Elizabeth Reaser, Kristen Stewart—as it does for everybody else.) And when you get to the end credits, you have to hear this bleeding awful song, again.

After 10 minutes of this movie, this was the only note I managed to scribble out:

And then, the Natty Light kicked in, and I began enjoying myself famously.

How the Israeli Army Used Social Media to Brag About an Assassination

| Thu Nov. 15, 2012 7:03 AM EST

On Wednesday, the Israeli Air Force took out a car carrying Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, head of the military wing (the Al-Qassam Brigades) of Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that governs the Gaza Strip. Shortly after, the Israeli military started going to town on Gaza, again.

And like that, the Israel Defense Forces took to social media to promo the assassination.

The IDF quickly posted a 10-second, black-and-white video of the killing to its official YouTube page. It was titled, "IDF Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabari, Head of Hamas Military Wing," and vividly shows the moment of impact. By Wednesday night the video had been taken down "because its content violated YouTube's Terms of Service." (UPDATE: On Thursday, the video was reposted to YouTube in full.) Here's a screenshot:

Via YouTubeVia YouTubeThis image went up on the IDF's official Facebook timeline, with random Facebook users tagging the picture with names like "dead idiot":

Via FacebookThe update also read, "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead." Via Facebook

And with a message identical to the one on their Facebook update, the Israeli military began smack-talking via Twitter, setting off this feud with the official account of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades:

Keep in mind that Twitter feuds are . Via Keep in mind that Twitter feuds are typically what happen between G-Unit and Game, not armies with huge geopolitical stakes attached. H/t Alex Yudelson

Another IDF spokesperson tweet, from earlier:

There was the obligatory live-blogging, with regular updates on the offensive:

viaidfblog.comAlso, updates through the IDF Flickr stream:

More can be More pages of IDF pics here. It seems the only thing missing was Instagramming the air strike, or possibly hashtagging the assassination (the IDF did, however, hashtag the general military operation with #PillarOfDefense).

Watch: Obama Blasts GOP Attacks on UN Ambassador Susan Rice

| Wed Nov. 14, 2012 5:51 PM EST

During a White House press conference on Wednesday, President Obama took a few minutes to push back on a burgeoning media narrative.

ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the president about the likely nomination of UN ambassador Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, as well as the determination of certain Republicans to block her nomination.

Here's video and a transcript of the president's response:

Let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace...If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the UN ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous...I don't think there's any debate in this country that when you have four Americans killed, that's a problem. And we've got to get to the bottom of it, and there needs to be accountability...But when they go after the UN ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me. And if I think that she would be the best person to serve America [at the] State Department, then I will nominate her.

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