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.

The Impending Global Bacon Shortage... and Climate Change

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 11:33 AM EDT

We are all so very screwed. Here is a CBS News report to ruin your day:

Britain's National Pig Association, "the voice of the British pig industry," warned recently that a global shortage of bacon and pork "is now unavoidable" because of shrinking herds...[A]nnual pig production for Europe's main pig producers fell across the board between 2011 and 2012, a trend that "is being mirrored around the world." The group tied the decline to increased feed costs, an effect of poor harvests for corn and soybeans...

But the projected decline isn't news to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In its monthly outlook report (PDF) from August, the department linked a reduction next year in the United States to this year's drought in the Midwest.

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WATCH: In Pro-Obama Ad, Samuel L. Jackson Tells Complacent Voters to "Wake the Fuck Up!"

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Hollywood megastar and snake-punching virtuoso Samuel L. Jackson plays the lead in a new ad from The Jewish Council for Education & Research (JCER), a liberal super-PAC. It is nearly four minutes long. It is unabashedly pro-Obama. It will be shown exclusively online. Oh, and it's titled, "Wake the Fuck Up."

Jackson, 63, narrates in a Seussian fashion (Whoville!), while paying homage to the audiobook he recorded for Adam Mansbach's children's book sendup Go the Fuck to Sleep. The clip consists primarily of the actor, clad in jeans and a black beret, magically appearing in houses and hurling obscenities and Democratic talking points at unsuspecting white suburbanites.

In one scene, for example, Jackson intones:

Sorry, my friend, but there's no time to snore.
And out-of-touch millionaires just declared war.
On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay.
We're all on our own if Romney has his way.
And he's against safety nets, if you fall, tough luck.
So I strongly suggest that you wake the fuck up.

The Most Clint Eastwood-y Clint Eastwood Quotes in "Trouble with the Curve"

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 7:36 PM EDT

Trouble with the Curve
Warner Bros. Pictures
111 minutes

NOTE: There will be no empty chair jokes in this post. Yes, Clint Eastwood gave a circuitous, hilarious speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention as an old and slightly confused man. And just three weeks later, he has a new movie in theaters in which plays an old and slightly confused man. It practically begs for a torrent of lazy puns, headlines, and ledes. Almost all the film critics making their chair jokes are motivated by a misguided impulse to be clever, cute, and topical. (Emphasis on "misguided.") Do. Not. Make. Them. You are better than that. (Also, if you'd like to hear more about this film, ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg and I chat about it here.)

Clint Eastwood's new movie came out today. It's an ordinary but innocently enjoyable film about cigar-chomping baseball scout Gus Lobel (Eastwood, always worthwhile) and his daughter Mickey (the reliably wonderful Amy Adams, who is also in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master this week). Yogi Bear adaptation superstar Justin Timberlake shows up for some of the movie. Trouble is serviceable, but nothing special (for such so-so material, Eastwood was probably wise to produce and star, and turn over directing duties to Robert Lorenz).

At its better, non-sentimental moments, it's simply Clint Eastwood continuing to elevate crotchety emoting to a level of art form.

And so I present to you my list of, "The Most Clint Eastwood-y Clint Eastwood Quotes in Trouble with the Curve":

1. "Don't laugh. I outlived you, you little bastard." — to his penis, as he urinates in the morning, struggling with an aged prostate.

The Afghanistan US Troop Surge Is Officially Over

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 5:01 PM EDT

This happened on Friday, to "little fanfare":

The American military says it has completed what it called the "recovery," meaning withdrawal, of the 33,000 surge troops it had sent to Afghanistan two years ago, more than a week ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline President Obama set for them to go home.

Here a few more numbers to keep in mind as we approach the 2014 deadline for withdrawal of US combat forces:

68,000: The number of US troops still stationed in Afghanistan.

117,227: The total number of Department of Defense contractors working in Afghanistan.

34,765: The number of US citizens working as contractors in Afghanistan.

9,355: The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan since Obama took office.

18,553: The total number of civilian casualties since the war started.

1491: The number of US troop casualties in Afghanistan since Obama took office.

2121: The total number of US troop casualties since the war started.

$385,600,000,000: The estimated financial cost of the war in Afghanistan to the US taxpayer since Obama took office.

$557,300,000,000: The estimated financial cost of the war in Afghanistan to the US taxpayer since October 7, 2001.

State Department Officially Removing MEK From US Terror List

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 2:31 PM EDT
MEK supporters in front of the US State Department on August 26, 2011.

After a few months of will-they-won't-they tension, the US State Department decided on Friday to officially remove the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, which the Iranian exile group has been on for the past 15 years.

CNN broke the story:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to notify Congress as early as Friday that she intends to take the [MEK]...off a State Department terror list, three senor administration officials told CNN...MEK was placed on the US terrorism list in 1997 because of the killing of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s and an attempted attack against the Iranian mission to the United Nations in 1992. However, since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf [in Iraq] "noncombatants" and "protected persons" under the Geneva Conventions. The group is in the final stages of moving from a refugee camp in Iraq where they've lived for more than 25 years is nearing completion under the auspices of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.

The Paris-based MEK—which enjoys a solidly low level of popular support among Iranians—is also called the The People's Mujahideen of Iran, and was founded in Tehran in the mid-1960s as a synthesis of Islamic principle, left-wing populism, and violent resistance to the Shah. It has since been blasted by critics as a totalitarian, hero-worshipping cult with a history of engaging in indiscriminate mass murder (a particular sore spot is the allegation that MEK fighters acted as a death squad for Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Shiite and Kurdish uprisings in Iraq). Today, the group is reportedly on the frontlines of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, and has a long, bipartisan list of powerful friends in the US who pitch the group as the Western-friendly and pluralistic antidote to the Islamic republic.

The bizarro patchwork of high-profile advocates includes John Bolton, Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.), at least two Romney campaign advisor, Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Ed Rendell, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, and ex-FBI director Louis Freeh. Some of these top supporters received subpoenas from the Treasury department last March during an investigation of speaking fees for pro-MEK events—something that could potentially amount to providing material support to a designated terror organization.

As I reported last year, well-funded MEK backers also received a lobbying assist from high-powered international PR firm Brown Lloyd James—a company that has something of a reputation for sanitizing the records of dictators with names like Qaddafi and Assad. (Other clients have included AARP, the state of Qatar, the Washington embassy of Ecuador, Al Jazeera English, Russia Today, Forbes, and the famous composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.)

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