Matt Schiavenza

Matt Schiavenza is the senior content manager at the Asia Society and a former contributing writer for The Atlantic.
  • New York's Bizarre Topless Controversy

    It’s been a hot, desultory summer here in New York City, so, quite naturally, the dominant political controversy of the season has been topless women—in particular the handful, referred to as desnudas, who walk around Times Square clad in thong underwear, high heels, body paint, and nothing else.

    Until recently, few paid much attention to the women, who comprise a small part of the carnival-esque atmosphere of the square. But in recent weeks the desnudas have aroused the ire of both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio, two politicians who haven’t been able to agree on basically anything else. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s perfectly legal for women to go topless in New York. But deBlasio, a self-styled “progressive,” has made no secret of his desire to boot the desnudas out—even if it means uprooting the square’s pedestrian zone and replacing it with regular thoroughfares.

    So, in an old-fashioned exercise in participatory journalism, the New York Post reporter Amber Jamieson, went undercover as a desnuda for a day.

  • What We're Following

    Police killing in Texas: Authorities in Harris County have detained Shannon J. Miles in the “execution-style” murder of Deputy Sheriff Darren H. Goforth on Saturday. Though the motive for the shooting remains “unclear,” police believe Goforth was targeted because he was wearing a uniform. Miles has a lengthy criminal record including charges for resisting arrest, trespassing, and disorderly conduct with a firearm.

    Iran sentences two for spying: A court in Iran has sentenced two people to 10 years in prison for spying for Israel and the U.S. but has not identified either of the convicted. It is unclear whether Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent detained last year and charged with spying, was affected.

    A tragedy for Broadway: The musical theater world lost a major talent early Saturday morning, when actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste fell to his death from his mother’s fire escape in Brooklyn in what appears to be “accidental.” The 21-year-old Jean-Baptiste had been the youngest actor to portray Jean Valjean in the Broadway production of Les Miserables, and, more significantly, the first African American to do so. A recording from his first performance:

  • Losing Oliver Sacks

    (Wikimedia Commons)

    Neurologist, writer, pianist, swimmer, weightlifter, mountaineer, motorcycle traveler. This list of vocations characterizes the remarkable life of Dr. Oliver Sacks, who died of cancer today at the age of 82.

    Born in Britain but a long-time resident of New York, Sacks is best known for his written meditations on the human brain and its peculiar defects. In his 1973 book Awakenings, later adapted into a film starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, Sacks profiled a group of patients suffering from a rare form of encephalitis that had rendered them into a seemingly permanent catatonic state—only to be temporarily revived. Eleven years later, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat introduced readers to a variety of neurological maladies endured by his patients, whom Sacks depicted with humor, empathy, and grace.

    Sacks remained a prolific writer well into old age. In a December 2012 essay for The Atlantic, he described the phenomenon of hallucination:

  • A Joyous Announcement

    Vin Scully sits in his booth during the third inning between the Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. (Mark J. Terrill / AP)

    Vin Scully, the longtime Los Angeles Dodgers announcer and perhaps the most beloved sports broadcaster in the U.S., announced last night that he’ll be returning to the booth for his 67th season next year:

    The 87-year-old Scully made the announcement through comedian Jimmy Kimmel in the middle of the second inning of the team's 4-1 win against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night. Kimmel broke the news on the Dodger Stadium video boards using cue cards, one of the final one saying “(at least),” referencing that Scully could work beyond just next season. His last card read: “God bless us everyone.”

    On the surface, the most impressive thing about Scully is his longevity. When the 21-year-old redhead from The Bronx broadcast his first Dodgers game in 1950, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Bob Feller were active. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle had not yet started their careers. Cy Young, a 19th century star whose name is synonymous with pitching greatness, was still alive. The Dodgers’ own Jackie Robinson had broken baseball’s color barrier just three years earlier—and the majority of the league’s 16 teams had still never employed a black player. No city west of the Mississippi River would have its own team for eight more years, when Scully accompanied Brooklyn’s Dodgers west to Los Angeles.

    But Scully is more than just an announcer who happened to stick around for a long time.

  • Jailed for Journalism

    Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are seen behind bars before hearing the verdict at a court in Cairo, Egypt on August 29, 2015. (Asmaa Waguih / Reuters)

    An Egyptian court today sentenced three journalists from al Jazeera to at least three years in prison for “broadcasting false news,” a charge that human rights advocates claim is false. The verdict came as a surprise to the defendants and observers alike:

    The journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, had said they were expecting to be exonerated or sentenced to time already served. Egyptian officials have strongly suggested they were eager to be rid of the case, which had become a source of international embarrassment for the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, highlighting its sweeping crackdown on opponents as well as freedom of expression after the military takeover in 2013.

    The two journalists who hold Egyptian citizenship—Fahmy and Mohamed—were remanded into custody while Greste, an Australian, had been deported in February.

  • Tami Chappell / Reuters

    The Atlantic Daily: Female Army Rangers, Stocks, Iran Deal

    Two soldiers made history by graduating from Army Ranger School, the Dow Jones industrial average entered correction territory, a prominent Democrat came out in support of the Iran deal, and more ...

  • John Amis / Reuters

    The Atlantic Daily: Jimmy Carter, Alexis Tsipras, Hurricane Danny

    A former president discusses his cancer, a Greek prime minister resigns, a big storm approaches, and more ...

  • Lee Jae-won / Reuters

    How Loudspeakers and Balloons Heighten Tension Along the Korean Border

    North and South Korea, locked in one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, exchanged fire on Thursday.

  • SANA / AP

    The Atlantic Daily: ISIS Beheading, Ashley Madison, Chelsea Manning

    The militant group executes a Syrian antiquities expert, the social-networking site for philanderers is hacked, the Army private is found guilty of violating prison rules, and more…

  • Nour Fourat / Reuters

    Why ISIS Killed an Antiquities Scholar

    The Islamic State’s slaying of Khaled Asaad, 82, who refused to say where some artifacts were kept, is as much about economics as ideology.

  • Lucky R / Antara Foto / Reuters

    Why Indonesia Has So Many Plane Crashes

    Sunday’s crash of a Trigana Air flight in the remote Papua region is the third major aviation disaster endured by the Southeast Asian country in the last 12 months.

  • Brennan Linsley / AP

    The Atlantic Daily: Gay-Wedding Cakes, China's Currency, Relief for Western Drought

    The Colorado Court of Appeals rules against a Christian baker; the yuan is devalued for a third straight day; and El Nino could provide the West with much-needed drought relief.

  • Aly Song / Reuters

    China’s Currency Falls for a Third Consecutive Day

    Despite assurances, the depreciation has renewed fears of a currency war.

  • Charlie Neibergall / AP

    The Atlantic Daily: Hillary Clinton's Emails, Explosion in China, Navajo EPA

    The former secretary of state turns over her private email server to the FBI; a massive explosion in the Chinese city of Tianjin kills seven people and injured hundreds of others; and the Navajo Nation vows legal action against the EPA over a spill.

  • You Sung-Ho / Reuters

    A Troubling Execution in North Korea

    A vice premier becomes the latest victim of Kim Jong Un’s consolidation of power.

  • Andrew Weber/ USA Today sports

    The Tragic Legacy of Junior Seau

    The dominant linebacker, who took his own life in 2012, is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame under controversial circumstances.

  • Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Why the U.S. Can't Build an Opposition Army in Syria

    An attack on an American-funded military group epitomizes the Obama administration’s logistical and strategic failures in the war-torn country.

  • China Daily / Reuters

    The Atlantic Daily: Olympics, Ebola, Clinton

    A Winter Games is awarded, a vaccine is developed, and Hillary jabs at Jeb.

  • Damir Sagolj / Reuters

    A Winter Olympics in a City Without Snow

    The IOC’s selection of Beijing as the host of its 2022 games is met with a lukewarm response.

  • Prisca Bigot / Reuters

    The Atlantic Daily: MH 370, Cincinnati, Rolling Stone

    A possible fragment of a missing plane is found, an accused cop pleads not guilty, and a magazine editor resigns in disgrace.