Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi had an interesting idea for an art project: She wanted to create a kayak modeled on her vagina. But when Igarashi emailed images of her vagina to her supporters for 3D printing, she was arrested in Tokyo on grounds of obscenity.
Igarashi, 42, started a crowd-funding project for the kayak under the name Rokudenashiko — which roughly translates to "good-for-nothing girl" — and wrote on her campaign's page that she wanted the boat to be anatomically accurate. She wrote that silicone molds will "gradually deteriorate, which makes mass production difficult," requiring monetary support. According to Japan's Kyodo news agency, Igarashi received roughly one million yen to fund the project.
Igarashi ran into legal trouble when she emailed design files to those who had donated money to the project, asking them to print 3D renderings of her genitalia. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested her for breaking obscenity laws in sending the files, according to Kyodo. "I cannot understand why the police recognize the 3D data as obscene material," Igarashi reportedly told police.
This isn't Igarashi's first genitalia-inspired art project — she's previously created comic books, dioramas, and even a remote-control car based on her vagina. She's already built quite a fan following, too: There's a Change.org petition to protest Igarashi's arrest, and it's already garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
And as for Igarashi's opinion? "My work is against discriminative, ignorant treatment of the vagina," Igarashi wrote on her website, translated by Wired. "I thought it was just funny to decorate my vagina and make it into a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how upset people get when they see my works." Meghan DeMaria
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to the growing Cambridge Analytica scandal in a lengthy Facebook post Wednesday, outlining a plan to avoid a similar breach in the future.
Zuckerberg described the timeline of events that led up to to what he called a "breach of trust," in which the data analytics firm reportedly accessed private information from tens of millions of users without permission. The Facebook co-founder said that many measures were already in place to prevent such an issue, but introduced a three-pronged plan for the future: investigate all third-party apps that log sensitive data, further restrict third-party developers from accessing personal information, and create a tool for users to easily control which apps can access profile data.
Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with reported ties to President Trump's campaign, obtained access to information that was originally collected in accordance with Facebook's policies, reports CNN. But the data was transferred to third-parties without permission rather than deleted, even after the company told Facebook it would dispose of the information. The breach was originally reported by The New York Times and The Guardian on Saturday, and Zuckerberg had remained silent on the scandal until Wednesday's post.
"I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform," wrote Zuckerberg. Lawmakers are calling for Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate to address privacy and accountability issues for web-based companies. Summer Meza
A crew of three astronauts blasted off Wednesday afternoon, embarking on a flight from Kazakhstan to the International Space Station, where they will spend five months conducting research.
The Soyuz MS-08 rocket successfully launched NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, into space. The crew will orbit the Earth for two days, before docking at the ISS on Friday, where they will join three other astronauts, who are from Russia, Japan, and the United States.
Once all six members are at the station, NASA reports, they will conduct research to test how certain materials react to a space environment, study the effects of microgravity on bone marrow, and develop the "Veggie" plant growth facility that provides astronauts with "salad-type crops."
Watch the liftoff below, via CBC News. Summer Meza
On Wednesday, President Trump defended his controversial decision to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election earlier this week, tweeting that "getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing" and adding, "PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!"
I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.......
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018
.....They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. Bush tried to get along, but didn’t have the “smarts.” Obama and Clinton tried, but didn’t have the energy or chemistry (remember RESET). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018
The Washington Post had reported that Trump was warned in all caps by national security advisers not to congratulate Putin, although he went ahead and did it anyway. Aides also told the president he needed to condemn the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England earlier this month, which has been widely blamed on Moscow; Trump didn't bring this up, the Post adds.
Analysts say Russia's election was undemocratic, and there are videos showing ballot box-stuffing. Jeva Lange
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised benchmark rates for the sixth time since the financial crisis, following the conclusion of its two-day meeting, the first under new Chairman Jerome Powell, CNBC reports.
The hike, of a quarter of a point, raised the Fed's key rate from 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, its highest level in a decade. The Fed additionally signaled it would raise the rate two more times this year and three times in 2019. "The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months," the committee said in a statement.
Rate hikes "lead to higher rates for businesses looking to invest or consumers looking to buy cars or homes," writes The Washington Post, but they "also fight inflation and make the Fed better prepared for a future recession." Jeva Lange
Do you dread walking into a store only to have some chipper salesperson pop up out of nowhere and ask, "Do you need help finding anything?" You're not alone, Racked reports. A stunning 95 percent of people "want to be left alone in stores," per a new study of 2,900 North American shoppers conducted by HRC Retail Advisory.
Many other studies have looked into the effect of salespeople on shoppers, including an extremely relatable one from 2016, where researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that attractive salespeople actually scared off potential customers (never mind that the sample was 164 "socially inept" men with "obsessive interest in computer technology who visited a shop selling figures based on Japanese comics," as The Telegraph puts it).
Customers seem to prefer to be the ones to make the first move — another study, in 2014, by a University of Pennsylvania professor, found that 50 percent of potential customers will still seek out an employee for advice or questions while shopping.
Still, if there is an alternative to interaction, people prefer it. The HRC study also found that 85 percent of people would rather use a scanner to find out the price of an item than be forced to ask another human. Jeva Lange
Former CIA Director John Brennan appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday to unload his candid thoughts about President Trump's leadership, as well as Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"He is mean-spirited; he is dishonest; he has shown a lack of integrity; he has continued to, I think, demean the office of the presidency," Brennan said of Trump. Brennan served as CIA director under former President Barack Obama, from March 2013 until January 2017.
Brennan has been a vocal opponent of Trump on Twitter, taking issue with his recent firing of Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI. He said that Trump's "impetuousness" and "ignorance" compelled him to speak out, even as he admitted he'd never criticized a president's character so harshly before.
"I worked for six presidents," said Brennan. "I didn't agree with some of their policies, but all of them, all of them, were trying to do what they thought was best for the United States. That's not Mr. Trump, he is self-absorbed and he is trying to just promote his own interests."
Trump's "fawning over Putin" also struck Brennan as problematic, as he theorized that Trump had reason to fear the Russian president and speculated that Russian officials may "have something" to hold over Trump. Watch the rest of Brennan's appearance below, via MSNBC. Summer Meza
The White House's nondisclosure agreement for staff is practically unenforceable. Trump makes everyone sign it anyway.
Last year, White House Counsel Don McGahn drew up a nondisclosure agreement for senior staff at President Trump's insistence, even while quietly reassuring aides that the document was practically unenforceable, The New York Times reports. The issuing of an NDA that covers even unclassified and non-confidential White House matters was a first, and it likely could not actually dictate the statements of federal employees were it to be tested, experts say. One former official said he was told that the nondisclosure agreement "was merely meant to reassure the president," the Times writes.
When he was still a private citizen, Trump often used nondisclosure agreements to maintain his and his company's images. By imposing blanket restrictions in the White House, though, he veers into potentially violating the First Amendment, critics argue. "You can't blanket wipe out speech, and you have to show there's a compelling government purpose for doing so," said former President Barack Obama's top ethics lawyer in the White House Counsel's Office, Norm Eisen.
Trump's paranoia evidently stems from concern about "people using information about him in books later on," the Times' Maggie Haberman added on Twitter.
Apparently no one in the White House takes the document seriously, though. The official who recalled being told the NDA was meant to placate the president added that "no one in the White House thought they were signing away their First Amendment rights," The New York Times writes. Jeva Lange