Matthew Philips

Stories by Matthew Philips

  • Why WWII Videogames Are Hot

    In a virtual world of fantasy and science fiction, realistic videogames set in World War II are ever popular. But is this a good way to learn history?
  • 1968: Witnesses to History

    Witnessing History: The killings of Bobby and Martin, the start of the Tet Offensive and the end of the World Series.
  • Kids’ Costumes: Too Risque?

    Little girls' Halloween costumes are looking more like they were designed by Victoria's Secret every year. Are we prudes or is this practically kiddie porn?
  • Something Scary Is In Your Closet

    Halloween costumes are supposed to be scary, but what's putting a fright into parents this year is how slinky the options are getting for their daughters. Designs for classics, like witches and princesses, are featuring more halter tops, miniskirts and bare midriffs. One version of a Little Bo Peep costume for preteens, on sale at Buy Costumes.com, has a corset and knee-high stockings. An Army-girl costume is labeled "Major Flirt." These , along with hot sellers based on TV shows like "Hannah Montana," are making it hard for parents to find something that won't make their trick-or-treater look like a lady of the night."Halloween has become just an excuse for little girls to dress like sluts," says Celia Rivenbark, author of the 2006 book "Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank." Americans are expected to spend nearly $2 billion on Halloween costumes this year, twice what they did in 2003, according to the National Retail Federation. But the trend simply reflects the culture,...
  • Q&A: Policing School Shootings

    A disturbed 14-year-old wounds four before killing himself in Cleveland—just another spasm of violence in another bloody year for America's schools. How to spot trouble before it opens fire—and the ongoing debate over blame for a cycle that just won't stop.
  • Beliefwatch: Anglican Angst

    What happens when the Archbishop of Canterbury and 150 Episcopal bishops meet in New Orleans to talk about gay rights? Predictably (temporizing is an Anglican hallmark), it's hard to tell. Despite heaps of press over a meeting last week in which the Episcopal House of Bishops was to clarify its views on homosexuality, the outcome remains fuzzy. Did they, as The New York Times reported, reject orders from conservatives to stop consecrating gay and lesbian bishops and blessing same-sex unions, thus sealing the fate of a fracturing church? Or did they, according to USA Today, make concessions to those demands and preserve the united of the worldwide Anglican Communion? It depends on whom you ask."They didn't go far enough," says the Rev. Neal Michell of Dallas, one of several dioceses unhappy with the Episcopal Church since the 2003 consecration of Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire. But to the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, a group of gay and lesbian...
  • China Regulates Buddhist Reincarnation

    In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.At 72, the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since...
  • How Green Was Live Earth, Anyway?

    A 24-hour, global concert series featuring 125 artists performing at 11 separate venues across seven continents, Live Earth may well be the largest, most complex one-day entertainment event ever held. According to the early returns, the show—spearheaded by Al Gore and Kevin Wall, who two years ago helped organize the Live 8 concerts and has since founded his own climate-focused group, SOS (Save our Selves)—was a hit. An estimated 10 million people tuned in via streaming Internet. The concert’s partnership with MSN hosting online content is drawing early praise for its easy user interface and speed. And Live Earth’s organizers hope to have reached two billion people through a media campaign spanning the Web, radio and TV.Still, this wasn’t just a rock extravaganza; all of the activity was supposed to be in service of building global awareness of climate change and what to do about it. Just how Green was Live Earth, really? Large stadium concerts aren’t exactly eco-friendly, and while...
  • Slam Dancing for Allah

    It's near midnight in a small Fairfax, Va., bar, and Omar Waqar stands on a makeshift stage, brooding in a black tunic and brown cap. He stops playing his electric guitar long enough to survey the crowd—an odd mix of local punks and collared preps—before screaming into the microphone: "Stop the hate! Stop the hate!" Stopping hate is a fairly easy concept to get behind at a punk-rock show, and the crowd yells and pumps its fists right on cue. But it's safe to say that Waqar and his band, Diacritical, aren't shouting about the same kind of hate as the audience. Waqar wants to stop the kind that made people call him "sand flea" as a kid and throw rocks through the windows of the Islamic bookstore he worked at on 9/11. Waqar, 26, the son of a Pakistani immigrant, is a Muslim—a punk-rock Muslim.Muslim punk rock certainly sounds like an oxymoron, especially since fundamentalist Muslims condemn all music as haram (forbidden). But Diacritical is one of about a dozen Islamic punk-rock bands...
  • Talk Transcript: Islam in America

    It's near midnight in a small Fairfax, Va., bar, and Omar Waqar stands on a makeshift stage, brooding in a black tunic and brown cap. He stops playing his electric guitar long enough to survey the crowd—an odd mix of local punks and collared preps—before screaming into the microphone: "Stop the hate! Stop the hate!" Stopping hate is a fairly easy concept to get behind at a punk-rock show, and the crowd yells and pumps its fists right on cue. But it's safe to say that Waqar and his band, Diacritical, aren't shouting about the same kind of hate as the audience. Waqar wants to stop the kind that made people call him "sand flea" as a kid and throw rocks through the windows of the Islamic bookstore he worked at on 9/11. Waqar, 26, the son of a Pakistani immigrant, is a Muslim—a punk-rock Muslim.Muslim punk rock certainly sounds like an oxymoron, especially since fundamentalist Muslims condemn all music as haram (forbidden). But Diacritical is one of about a dozen Islamic punk-rock bands...
  • Religion: The Pope Lets Go of Limbo

    In the world of Vatican reversals, it’s a big one. According to a 41-page report released last week by the Roman Catholic Church’s International Theological Commission, limbo—a celestial middle ground between Heaven and Hell—is no longer necessary. That means that babies who die unbaptized are now free to go to heaven rather than being consigned to limbo, where for the last 800 years they’ve been forced to await the End of Days, unable to share in the beatific vision of God and Jesus Christ with their Roman Catholic brethren.Limbo has never been official church doctrine, but with this report, the Catholic Church signals that it is not interested in perpetuating the concept at all. It also suggests that Pope Benedict XVI may be less conservative than his image suggests. Citing a “greater theological awareness” that God is “merciful and wants all human beings to be saved,” the commission, after three years of study and with approval from the pope, has concluded that excluding innocent...
  • BeliefWatch: Mrs. Pastor

    In Selmer, Tenn. (population: 4,600), last week, the murder trial of Mary Winkler began with defense lawyers painting the soft-spoken pastor's wife as the victim of an abusive marriage who accidentally pulled the trigger on a 12-gauge shotgun that killed her Church of Christ pastor husband last March. Although prosecutors say the act was purposeful and premeditated, when police caught up to Winkler a day later along Alabama's Gulf Coast, she alluded to a steady flow of criticism and abuse as her motive. "I guess I just got to a point and snapped," she told police.Though Winkler's case is, to say the very least, extreme, her apparent frustrations are not. Statistics indicate that beneath the smiling, steadfast veneer of a pastor's wife, there often lies a deeply isolated woman who, due to her husband's constant commitment to his congregants, frequently feels neglected and left without a support system of her own. According to research by the late Bill Bright, founder of Campus...
  • The Pets We Love--And Drug

    Fluffy is getting old. Going on 13, she's geriatric for a Rottweiler. And like many people past retirement age, she takes a lot of pills—steroids for her bad hips and pinched nerve, a chewable tablet for her underactive thyroid, even Benadryl for her allergies. Her owner, Kelly Dowd, is happy to pay the $75 monthly. But to date, there has been no pill to treat Fluffy's most serious ailment—at 110 pounds, she's 25 pounds overweight, borderline obese.Next month this will change when Slentrol, the first diet drug for dogs, hits the market. Developed by Pfizer and approved by the Food and Drug Administration late last year, Slentrol suppresses a dog's appetite and limits fat absorption. Although Dowd says she'll try to cut the amount of food Fluffy eats before resorting to drugs, at a cost of nearly $2 a day Pfizer believes the owners of at least 17 million dogs will be willing to try Slentrol. That could be a conservative bet: about one third of the 74 million dogs in the United States...
  • Is Pet Food Properly Regulated?

    It's been nearly a week since Canadian pet-food manufacturer Menu Foods Inc. recalled some 60 million cans and pouches of wet food linked to the deaths of at least 15 cats and one dog, yet authorities still can't explain exactly what went wrong. Some critics and animal lovers are honing in on what they see as lax regulation of the $15 billion pet-food industry in the United States."There's almost a void there," says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association. "There is no real pet-food department of any federal agency."Technically, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for ensuring that pet foods, like human foods, are safe to eat, truthfully labeled and produced under sanitary conditions. But on Tuesday, FDA officials admitted that the regulation of pet food takes a back seat to its regulatory obligations of other food and drug sectors, and that inspections of pet-food processing plants are done only on a for-cause basis."There are...
  • How the Colossal Squid Was Caught

    How the world's largest squid was caught—and the bidding war for the exclusive footage slated to be shown this spring.
  • Send Me To Space

    As she entered her sixth decade, Sara Davidson found that, as she puts it, she "couldn't get arrested." The author of 1978's best-seller "Loose Change," Davidson suddenly found herself single, out of work and an empty nester all at once. She bottomed out--so she wrote a book, "LEAP! What Will We Do With the Rest of Our Lives?. Inspired by her story, NEWSWEEK asked boomers to list the three things they still want to do--no matter what.One of the world's best-selling novelists, with more than 25 top sellers under his belt, King has built a loyal fan base of millions by consistently scaring them. His latest, "Lisey's Story," came out in October last year."I'd like to outlast George W. Bush's second term of office." ...
  • Science: A Faster DNA Test

    A tiny silicon device half the size of a fingernail is on the verge of changing the world of DNA testing. Thermal Gradient, a small biotech company in upstate New York, has developed a mechanism that reduces DNA amplification--the third most time-consuming stage of testing--from several hours to four minutes. While traditional machines need to cycle through extreme hot and cold temperatures to amplify a sample of DNA, the new device operates much more quickly by using microscopic preheated and cooled layers of silicon. "It's like we're breaking the sound barrier," says Bob Juncosa, Thermal Gradient's chief technical officer.The technology has the potential to revolutionize the highly regulated medical-diagnostics industry by giving doctors the ability to perform "instant" DNA tests, but its inventors don't see it being used that way for at least three to five years. For now, its trial run will come in the realm of biodefense. The Department of Homeland Security has awarded the...
  • Periscope

    I'm a 200-pound guy, not real girly, but I sometimes compare myself to the classic "woman who has it all." Great spouse, kids, job. No time. Work-life balance issues. The line's gotten a laugh. But it has crossed my mind: how much difference is there between my life's résumé and theirs? Then in come the vivid profiles in this week's Women & Leadership special. Oops. One biting piece comes from an astrophysicist whom we had to coax to write about how sick she is of even talking about being a woman in science. And the stories these women tell: of how to use the power of being the only woman in the room, of an African refugee camp where the men refuse to even look at a woman in charge, of finding success only to lose a spouse who can't handle it. Woman or man, I suspect these stories will open your eyes and inspire you, too.--Tony Emerson, Managing EditorNo part of iraq needs fixing more desperately than insurgency-ravaged Anbar province and its capital, Ramadi. And U.S. forces are...
  • Preaching the Gospel Green

    The Rev. Richard Cizik has lobbied each administration since Ronald Reagan’s on behalf of the National Association of Evangelicals, promoting international religious liberty and faith-based community initiatives. Now, however, the issue at the top of his agenda is one that, until recently, wasn’t likely to be on the minds of a great many evangelicals. Rather than abortion or gay marriage, Cizik has spent the last four years focusing on climate change, and the unique responsibility he feels Christians have to protect the earth. He calls this particular brand of environmentalism “creation care,” and is proving to be a crucial bridge between the religious and scientific communities on climate change, a normally hot-button political issue.It hasn't all been clear skies for Cizik: James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Pat Robertson have assused Cizik of "dividing evangelicals" and environmentalists have speculated that he has been kept on a short leash by the NAE. Still, Cizik has...
  • Dead Air?

    After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, liberal talk radio network Air America has spent the past two months looking for someone to buy it out of the $40 million hole it has dug itself since launching in March 2004. With reports of potential buyers ranging from a group of investors led by two Showtime executives, to a small obscure mediacompany, this week the network finally confirmed that a letter of intent has been signed by an undisclosed potential buyer, and that negotiations have now turned to drafting a purchase agreement to divvy up the $20 million of debt the broadcaster owes to a roster of more than 100 creditors.It’s still anyone’s guess as to what shape Air America will take if and when it re-emerges under new ownership, especially amid reports that one of its biggest stars, comedian Al Franken, may leave the network to launch a campaign for the Democratic nomination to challenge Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008. (Franken is currently on a USO...
  • Education: A Reader's Best Friend

    A month ago, 8-year-old Connor Schultz could read 45 words a minute. Today he's up to 93. The reason? A 4-year-old longhaired dachshund named Ruby who, once a week, visits Connor's school in Schenectady, N.Y., and sits with him while he reads aloud. She doesn't judge or correct him, and Connor has an audience he feels comfortable reading to.Ruby is one of 16,000 certified therapy dogs participating in reading-assistance programs at schools and libraries across the country, as educators have begun tapping into the calming effect dogs have on us. "He curls up with [the kids] and they read him a story," says Louisville, Ky., instructor Mary Roberts of a Welsh corgi named Zoom, who is calming worried readers at New Castle Elementary. "You can just see their anxiety disappear."As word spreads and test scores improve, requests for visits from therapy dogs have been pouring in. "We get calls every day," says Ursula Kemp, president of New Jersey's Therapy Dogs International. Utah-based...
  • How White Was My Savior?

    Shopping for nativity scenes? At Macy’s you have two options to choose from: "The Vatican Edition" and "The Byzantine Edition." The first comes with a set of white figurines, including a red-headed Mary, a brown-haired Joseph and a blue-eyed baby Jesus. In the second, all three are black, as are the shepherd and three wise men. Both cost $10, and more than likely, both are historically inaccurate.While we can never be exactly sure of what Jesus, Mary and Joseph actually looked like, we know they were not fair-skinned, flaxen-haired Europeans. And, though an emerging fringe of historians would argue otherwise, it’s fairly certain they weren’t black Africans. In all likelihood, what they were was something in between: olive-skinned, dark-featured Semitic Jews living in Israel. Yet depictions of them as such are exceedingly rare compared to the countless number of images that have proliferated through the millennia portraying them as Caucasians.Until now. With New Line Cinema’s new...
  • Education: A Reader's Best Friend

    A month ago, 8-year-old Connor Schultz could read 45 words a minute. Today he's up to 93. The reason? A 4-year-old longhaired dachshund named Ruby who, once a week, visits Connor's school in Schenectady, N.Y., and sits with him while he reads aloud. She doesn't judge or correct him, and Connor has an audience he feels comfortable reading to.Ruby is one of 16,000 certified therapy dogs participating in reading-assistance programs at schools and libraries across the country, as educators have begun tapping into the calming effect dogs have on us. "He curls up with [the kids] and they read him a story," says Louisville, Ky., instructor Mary Roberts of a Welsh corgi named Zoom, who is calming worried readers at New Castle Elementary. "You can just see their anxiety disappear."As word spreads and test scores improve, requests for visits from therapy dogs have been pouring in. "We get calls every day," says Ursula Kemp, president of New Jersey's Therapy Dogs International. Utah-based...
  • Christians and AIDS

    When noted evangelical Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., invited Sen. Barack Obama to his second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church this week, some conservatives objected, citing Obama’s pro-choice views. But Warren and his wife, Kay, defended the invitation, saying the senator was there to discuss AIDS, not other issues. The conflict illustrates not only their somewhat maverick status within the evangelical community but also the commitment that the Warrens, and Kay in particular, have made toward HIV/AIDS.Over the last three years, Kay has traveled the world educating herself on the global epidemic that has infected 40 million and killed 25 million. She’s been to Africa, India and Thailand and has trips planned for Russia and China. She spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Matthew Philips about why she feels the Christian church is uniquely positioned to fight AIDS. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: When and why did you first start focusing on AIDS?Kay Warren: It was about...