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.

Singer and Hardcore LGBT Rights Supporter Demi Lovato Made This Lovely Video for Marriage Equality

| Thu Jul. 10, 2014 2:22 PM EDT

Singer and actress Demi Lovato is a strong supporter of LGBT rights. She played a lesbian character on Fox's Glee, served as the Grand Marshal of the Los Angeles Pride Parade this year, and has spoken openly about her grandfather's homosexuality. "I believe in gay marriage, I believe in equality," Lovato told Cambio magazine. "I think there's a lot of hypocrisy with religion…I just found that you can have your own relationship with God, and I still have a lot of faith."

Now, she's made a video (watch above) with the Human Rights Campaign in support of marriage equality. The video, released on Wednesday, is part of HRC's recently re-launched Americans for Marriage Equality campaign, which includes messages from Hillary Clinton, Bryan CranstonMo'Nique, and Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman. Here is Lovato's message:

Hey, guys, I'm Demi Lovato, and I'm an American for marriage equality. I believe that love comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. So whether you're LGBT or straight, your love is valid, beautiful, and an incredible gift. So let's protect love and strengthen the institution of marriage by allowing loving, caring, and committed same-sex couples to legally marry. Please join me and the majority of American citizens who support marriage equality.

"We reached out to her [a couple months ago] knowing what a supporter of LGBT equality she is, and thought she would be great for this campaign," Charles Joughin, an HRC spokesman, told Mother Jones. He also mentioned that they have more Americans for Marriage Equality videos lined up featuring other big names, from pro-athletes and movie stars to politicians and civil rights leaders. HRC will likely be released one video a week over the coming months.

When asked if Lovato has any further plans to work with the LGBT civil rights group, Joughin said that nothing was discussed, but that they'd be more than happy to do so. "She certainly has done a lot for the larger movement…We haven't taken it into consideration, but we're such big fans of her we'd be thrilled to work with her in the future. Whether she's doing work with HRC, or elsewhere, I am certain this is a cause she's very committed to."

Now check out this video about Lovato sticking it to Russian president Vladimir Putin (and his anti-gay policies) during her New York City gay pride performance this summer. During the show, two of Lovato's male backup dancers shared a kiss; one of them appeared to be naked and was holding a picture of Putin's face over his crotch:

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George R.R. Martin Has 2 Words for People Scared He'll Die Before Finishing "Game Of Thrones" Series

| Wed Jul. 9, 2014 1:38 PM EDT
Ball so hard.

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is 65 years old. Because of this, some of his fans are deeply worried that he won't finish writing his A Song of Ice And Fire fantasy book series (which began in 1996, and is the basis for the hit HBO show) before he dies. (See: the case of fellow fantasy author Robert Jordan.)

Well, he was asked about this during a recent interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. Here's his response:

Well, I find that question, you know, pretty offensive, frankly, when people start speculating about my death and my health. So, 'fuck you' to those people. [Laughs.]

You can watch the "fuck you"—and Martin's accompanying flipped middle finger—here.

This isn't the first time Martin has addressed this concern among his readers. In 2012, he wrote a blog post trolling his fans who are so obsessed with the series that they routinely berate him for working on other projects. It reads:

Reading. I just finished THE KING'S BLOOD, the second volume of Daniel Abraham's "Dagger and Coin" series. Books like this remind me why I love epic fantasy. Yes, I'm prejudiced, Daniel is a friend and sometime collaborator... but damn, that was a good book. Great world, great characters, thoroughly engrossing story. The only problem was, it ended too soon. I want more. I want to know what happens to Cithrin, and Marcus, and Geder, and Clara. And I want to know NOW. God damn you, Daniel Abraham. I know for a fact that you are writing more Expanse books with Ty, and more urban fantasies as M.L.N. Hanover, and doing short stories for some hack anthologist, and scripting some goddamn COMIC BOOK, and even sleeping with your wife and playing with your daughter. STOP ALL THAT AT ONCE, and get to writing on the next Dagger and Coin. I refuse to wait.

"Fuck you" is more succinct.

(h/t Gawker)

Emma Watson Crashes United Nations Website With Her Goodwill Ambassador Announcement

| Tue Jul. 8, 2014 3:16 PM EDT

Emma Watson—the humanitarian and staunch feminist who you may recognize from such films as The Bling Ring, Noah, and the Harry Potter movies—is now working with the United Nations on gender equality and female empowerment.

On Monday, UN Women and Watson announced that she had been appointed as a celebrity Goodwill Ambassador. The 24-year-old British actress will work on the "empowerment of young women and will serve as an advocate for UN Women's HeForShe campaign," according to the UN Women's press release. (The HeForShe campaign enlists men and boys to stand up for gender equality.) In 2012, Watson became an ambassador for the Campaign for Female Education.

The announcement drew enough web traffic to crash the UN Women website. "We apologize & hope to be back up soon," the UN entity tweeted. The site experienced problems for roughly 12 hours following the announcement. "This is the power of [Watson]; she has such global appeal," UN Women's Elizabeth Nyamayaro told Mother Jones.

"Ms. Emma Watson is someone who is not only smart, but someone who is very passionate about girls' issues," Nyamayaro said, explaining why the UN reached out to the actress in the first place. According to Nyamayaro, Watson is particularly excited about working with HeForShe, and will also support the work of young women across UN Women's strategic pillars, including economic empowerment, ending violence against women, political participation, and peace and security.

Here is Watson's full statement on her new gig:

Being asked to serve as UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador is truly humbling. The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women's rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can't imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience, and awareness to this role.

(Watson expressed her excitement on Twitter with a blushing emoticon.)

Other celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors for the UN include Liam Neeson, "Twitter Nazi hunter" Mia Farrow, and Orlando Bloom.

Below is video of Watson visiting slum homes and a fair trade group in Bangladesh: "I still find it hard to convey what fair trade means to those producing our fashion—it's just so impressive to see how the women have used fair trade clothing to escape poverty and empower themselves and their children," Watson said. "I was moved and inspired."

This post has been updated.

Gitmo Detainees Cite Hobby Lobby in New Court Filing. Read It Here.

| Mon Jul. 7, 2014 12:27 PM EDT

In a new court filing, attorneys for two Guantanamo Bay detainees have invoked the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which allowed certain corporations to ignore the Obamacare contraception mandate if their owners object to it on religious grounds. The motions, filed with a Washington, DC, district court on behalf of Ahmed Rabbani of Pakistan and Emad Hassan of Yemen, ask the court to bar military officials from preventing Gitmo inmates from participating in communal prayer during Ramadan.

"Hobby Lobby makes clear that all persons—human and corporate, citizen and foreigner, resident and alien—enjoy the special religious free exercise protections of the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act]," the lawyers argue.

A spokesman for the Department of Defense told Al Jazeera America on Friday that the "Defense Department is aware of the filing," and that the "government will respond through the legal system."

Read the emergency motion for a temporary restraining order below:

 

There's a Satirical, Naughty Musical About the Clinton White House Opening in New York. Listen to One of the Songs.

| Thu Jul. 3, 2014 3:37 PM EDT

If the musical-theater community could find it in itself to create a cantata telling the story of a Twitter war between Paul Krugman and the president of Estonia, then surely a musical about the Clinton administration couldn't have been that far behind.

On July 18, Clinton: The Musical will premiere at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. (The festival has previously hosted such successful productions as Next to Normal and Altar Boyz, prior to their respective Broadway runs.) The book for Clinton was written by Australian writing duo and brothers Paul and Michael Hodge, and music and lyrics were penned by Paul Hodge. An earlier, shorter version was nominated for best new musical at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and a subsequent incarnation was mounted at London's King's Head Theatre the following year.

The idea for the musical emerged out of a Hodge family outing. "My family and I went to go and see a musical in Australia about an Australian politician, back in 2006 or 2007," Paul Hodge tells Mother Jones. "And after the show, my dad said, 'Oh, it was good, but politicians don't make good subjects for musicals. The only politician who would make a good subject for that would be Bill Clinton.' And I said, 'Of course!'"

Clinton, a two-act musical satire, covers the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency. According to Paul, the music ranges from more traditional American musical styles to burlesque to 1990s pop. As for comedic influences, Paul cites Arrested Development, The Simpsons, and 30 Rock.

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