On July 12, Japanese police arrested artist Megumi Igarashi on obscenity charges for encouraging people to print 3-D replicas of her vagina, to raise money to make a vagina-shaped kayak. (She was released almost a week later, but still faces possible jail time). On Thursday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart puzzled through why Japan would react so harshly to yonic art — and how it justifies such a gross double standard when it comes to obscenity. "On the Japanese pervometer, the vagina boat is practically a Disney World ride," Stewart said.
Stewart finds his answer, sort of, in an annual phallus-themed parade in Kawasaki, and in the Japanese folk legend behind it. "Look, Japan, I don't want to tell you how to run your country," he said, "but just think about it this way: America has a long tradition of allowing its female artists to express their innermost thoughts — and as a result, we don't spend 51 weeks a year storing a giant steel dick in our garage." --Peter Weber
Wednesday was Hillary Clinton's 69th birthday, and she appeared to enjoy herself. Jimmy Kimmel found her tweeting out a birthday wishes to "this future president" a little strange and perhaps inappropriate, he said on Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, "but since it is Hillary's birthday, we wanted to do something fun to commemorate it, so this afternoon we went out on the street, we asked people who said they are Donald Trump supporters to say something nice to Hillary Clinton on her special day." Watch below to see how that went. Peter Weber
With two weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump's main task is to "appeal to voters beyond his base," Seth Meyers said on Wednesday's Late Night, and on Monday, he got "a golden opportunity" when the Obama administration announced that ObamaCare premiums will rise by double digits next year. "You'd think some bad ObamaCare news might help him," Meyers said, "but the Trump campaign never misses the opportunity to miss an opportunity."
Meyers got to ObamaCare, after a detour of the day's juiciest political news, including the "Blacks for Trump" sign malfunction and Newt Gingrich telling Megyn Kelly she's "fascinated by sex." "Fascinated by sex?" Meyers said. "Even if she was a sex addict, I'm pretty sure Newt Gingrich is the cure."
The ObamaCare premium hikes are "bad news on the surface, but it's still in line with the projections made by the Congressional Budget Office," he noted. "Obviously, ObamaCare is a nuanced, complicated issue that requires sober analysis and discussion," added Meyers, who routinely distills nuanced, complicated issues down to 10-minute comedy-news segments. But Trump, of course, just said that ObamaCare is "killing us." "ObamaCare is killing us, China is killing us, political correctness is killing us," Meyer said. "God forbid President Trump ever has to deal with a slight dip in GDP — he'd probably tweet: 'It's a depression!!! Every man for himself!!! Eat your neighbors!!!'"
"The context is important here," Meyers said, returning to ObamaCare, noting that the premium increases will affect only the small percentage of people who get insurance from the individual market, and even then, the "vast majority" of them will get higher subsidies, leaving most ObamaCare users with options for plans less than $75 a month. But instead of trying to make political hay of the issue, Trump was out promoting his hotels and golf courses on Monday and Tuesday. Meyers had a theory about that, too: "As for ObamaCare, it's a huge improvement, but it also is imperfect. It has problems, and we need serious ideas for how to make it better, but the reason Republicans haven't proposed any real plans to fix or replace ObamaCare is because they don't have any. And the guy they nominated for president doesn't even seem to know what it is." Peter Weber
Bats are some of the planet's most misunderstood mammals, and new live cams aim to shed light on these important creatures.
Just in time for Halloween, Explore.org — the same people who brought us this summer's smash Bear Cam — are back with bats. They've teamed up with Michigan's Organization for Bat Conservation, which rehabilitates bats and educates the public on the importance of the animals. The Bat Cams will focus on the 40 bats living in the conservation's sanctuary, covering five different species, including vampire bats, fruit bats, and two Malayan Flying Foxes named Fred and Tom, who both have a six-foot wingspan. Explore.org's founder, Charles Annenberg Weingarten, said in a statement the cameras will "provide an intimate look at their lives," while using infrared technology to protect their nocturnal habitat.
Rob Mies, founder of The Organization for Bat Conservation, said in a statement that the Bat Cam comes at the perfect time because it will help the public connect with "amazing animals that are often vilified, and really they deserve our respect and appreciation. In recent years, millions of bats have been dying due to White-nose Syndrome, so now is a crucial time to get people involved." Get to know these fascinating animals in the streaming video below, or head over to Explore.org, which will also feature live chats with scientists and experts. Catherine Garcia
Donald Trump had some good polling news out of Florida and New Hampshire on Wednesday, and early Thursday morning, he got some less-good news from a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of likely voters in the Lone Star State.
— Evan Smith (@evanasmith) October 27, 2016
The poll, conducted Oct. 14-23, ending right before early voting began on Oct. 24, has Trump beating Clinton 45 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7 percent and Green candidate Jill Stein at 2 percent. This is the second poll this month showing Trump up just 3 points over Clinton, and the second where the two are within the margin of error. Trump and Clinton are tied among female voters, and more Trump voters said they are voting against Clinton (53 percent) than actually want Trump to be president (47 percent); 66 percent of Clinton voters want her to be president, while 34 percent mostly don't want Trump to win.
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) October 27, 2016
"This is the trend that we've been seeing in polling for the last two weeks,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the UT/TT Poll, and Trump narrowly ahead is probably "where this race really stands." The margin of error for likely voters is ± 3.16 percentage points. According to FiveThirtyEight, Trump currently has an 84 percent shot of winning Texas. Peter Weber
On Wednesday's Tonight Show, it was 1996, and Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon were two dorky tweens at Camp Winnipesaukee. Disregard the fact that it's almost Halloween and it doesn't make sense for Timberlake and Fallon — both donning braces and permed hair — to be at summer camp, and enjoy the perfect harmony that results from the pair singing Alanis Morissette's classic, "Ironic." Watch the video below — just try not to be too sad that it doesn't include Timberlake wearing his Halloween costume for the year: Blossom. Catherine Garcia
Evan McMullin may be a presidential candidate few people have heard of, but he has a real shot at winning Utah's six electoral votes. And if he does that, becoming the first third-party candidate to win a state since 1968 (when George Wallace took five states in the Deep South), the independent conservative McMullin has a very slim chance of becoming the next president. First, "he needs to block Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from getting 270 electoral votes," explains ABC News' Shushannah Walshe. "At that point, the election would be tossed to the House of Representatives, where the Republican majority would have to pick Evan McMullin over Donald Trump."
Since Trump, as the Republican candidate, is supposed to win Utah, and since he has a much narrower path to 270 electoral votes, McMullin's surge affects him more than Clinton. Which might help explain this tweet from Lou Dobbs, Fox Business host and Donald Trump supporter:
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) October 23, 2016
McMullin, like Mitt Romney, is a Mormon, and he does draw much of his support from conservative Mormons who cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump, and he was also an investment banker. But "Mormon Mafia Tool" isn't a good look for Dobbs — or anyone — especially if you want your candidate to win Utah. Peter Weber
Prince Mikasa, the oldest member of Japan's imperial family, died of cardiac arrest Thursday in Tokyo. He was 100.
Mikasa, an uncle to Emperor Akihito, was the youngest brother of his father, Emperor Hirohito. Born Dec. 2, 1915, as Prince Takahito, he was the fourth son of Emperor Taisho. Mikasa was a scholar of ancient Asian history, teaching at Tokyo University of the Arts and Tokyo Women's Christian University and serving as the honorary president of the Japan-Turkey Society and Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan. He served in the military during World War II, becoming a major by the time it was over, and afterwards was a vocal proponent of peace, The Japan Times reports. He wrote in a book published in 1984 that he "constantly feel[s] the sting of conscience over my failure to fully grasp the criminality of war."
Mikasa was fifth in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne, which only men can ascend to; out of 19 imperial family members, there are now only four males. In 1941, he married his wife, 93-year-old Princess Yuriko. Together, they had three sons, all now deceased, and two daughters. Catherine Garcia