this is weird

Artist creates replica of Van Gogh's ear using living cells from relative

June 4, 2014

Using genetic material from a living relative, a copy of Vincent Van Gogh's ear (let's pretend it's the one he cut off) is currently on display in a German museum.

Artist Diemut Strebe used living cells from Van Gogh's brother's great-great-great-grandson to create the replica, The Associated Press reports. Strebe then used a 3D printer and shaped the cells to resemble the ear. "I use science basically like a type of brush, like Vincent used paint," she said. The ear was grown at a hospital in Boston, and is currently being kept alive in a case that contains a special liquid. Work is underway to use mitochondrial DNA from one of Van Gogh's female relatives to create a future installation.

In addition to looking at the ear and asking, "Why?" visitors to the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe can speak into it through a microphone.

unbelievable

Jewish community leader arrested, interrogated at Auschwitz

10:38pm ET
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The head of Rome's Jewish community found himself arrested Tuesday night at Auschwitz, the same concentration camp where his grandparents were murdered during the Holocaust.

Riccardo Pacifici was at Auschwitz for the 70th anniversary of its liberation, and while filming a live segment with the Italian show Matrix found that the gates to the camp had been closed. Pacifici, Jewish community spokesman Fabio Perugia, Matrix host David Parenzo, and two technicians spent an hour in the freezing cold, shouting for help and trying to get the attention of guards on security cameras, Haaretz reports. Finally, they decided to escape through an open window in the box office, which triggered an alarm.

Guards and Polish police officers quickly arrived and detained the group, questioning them onsite until 2:30 a.m. They were then moved to a station for further questioning, made difficult by language barriers, and finally released hours later once the Italian foreign ministry became involved. Pacifici told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that he was "astounded" by how they were treated. "They interrogated us until six in the morning — two Jews who had been locked inside the Auschwitz camp, where I lost some of my family," he said. "My grandparents died there. It's a shock. Our only crime was that we tried to get out through the window."

inquests

Woman killed during Sydney siege hit by police bullet ricochet

9:32pm ET
Don Arnold/Getty Images

A woman taken hostage during the siege at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney on Dec. 16 was killed by fragments from a police bullet or bullets, a coroner's representative said during an inquest into the event.

Jeremy Gormly said that 38-year-old lawyer Katrina Dawson was struck by six fragments and one hit a major blood vessel, Reuters reports. "She lost consciousness quickly and died shortly afterwards," he said. Police stormed into the cafe after gunman Man Haron Monis shot the cafe's manager, 34-year-old Tori Johnson; Gormly said that a police marksman saw Monis execute Johnson and then was killed instantly by several police bullets and bullet fragments to the body and head.

The inquest is taking place at the same time as a government inquiry into how Monis was able to get a gun and granted bail while facing charges as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.

down to the wire

New ISIS audio gives Jordan until sunset Thursday for prisoner swap

8:30pm ET

In a new audio message posted Wednesday, a person purported to be ISIS hostage and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto says that if Jordan does not bring a failed suicide bomber to the Turkish border by sunset Thursday, a Jordanian fighter pilot held by the group will be executed.

ISIS had previously said it would kill Goto and the pilot, Mu'ath al-Kasaesbeh, unless Jordan releases Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman who was put in prison for her involvement in a 2005 botched suicide attack that targeted a hotel in Amman, NBC News reports. The latest message only mentions al-Kasaesbeh's fate, and not Goto's.

Al-Kasaesbeh was captured in December when his jet crashed near Raqqa, Syria, and Jordan's information minister said earlier on Wednesday that the country is willing to swap al-Rishawi for its pilot. Although NBC News says it cannot verify the authenticity of the new recording, posted on an ISIS internet forum, it said it does sound similar to previous messages.

justice is served

Friendship Nine cleared 54 years after anti-segregation sit-in

7:37pm ET

On Jan. 31, 1961, nine African-American men protesting segregation held a sit-in at a Rock Hill, South Carolina, dining counter, and were dragged out and arrested. On Wednesday, almost 54 years later to the date, their misdemeanor trespassing charges have been vacated and local authorities are offering up heartfelt apologies.

"We cannot rewrite history, but we can right history," Judge John C. Hayes III, chief administrative judge for South Carolina's 16th Judicial Circuit, said. "Now, as to the Friendship Nine, is the time and opportunity to do so. Now is the time to recognize that justice is not temporal, but is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

The men — dubbed the Friendship Nine, as most attended the now-closed Friendship College — decided against paying their fine for trespassing and were sentenced to 30 days of labor in a county prison camp, The New York Times reports. Their choice also inspired other activists to protest and accept jail time. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was at the courthouse, and said it was time for the Friendship Nine to be recognized for what they did. "This is a monumental day for not just civil rights, but human rights and human dignity," she said.

your health

Study: Beauty products may cause early menopause

7:36pm ET
iStock

A woman's use of products like fragrance, cosmetics, and hairspray could mean she hits menopause years sooner than she would have naturally, according to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study, which TIME calls one of the most comprehensive studies of factors that disrupt menopause, looked at 31,575 women between 1999 and 2008. The Washington University in St. Louis researchers found on average, the women with the highest levels of designated chemicals experienced menopause 1.9 to 3.8 years earlier than the other women studied.

Certain chemicals are thought to disrupt reproductive hormones, like estrogen. More extensive research would need to be done to solidify the link between beauty products and menopause.

Business

CEO of McDonald's stepping down

6:28pm ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

McDonald's CEO Don Thompson announced Wednesday he is retiring, effective March 1.

"It's tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything," he said in a statement. The 25-year veteran of the company will be replaced by Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook. After the news was announced, McDonald's stock went up three percent to $91.50. Last quarter, profits were down 21 percent to $1.13 per share, missing estimates of $1.23 per share, and revenue fell 7 percent, Forbes reports.

survey says

Survey: 3 in 5 Americans support Charlie Hebdo

6:25pm ET
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Three in five Americans who heard of the recent terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo support the French satirical magazine's cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

Those surveyed by Pew Research who supported the publication cited reasons like press freedom, harmlessness, and a belief that all religions get lampooned. Opponents of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, numbering 28 percent, argued for respect for religious beliefs, offensive images, and their possibility of provoking violence. The remaining participants familiar with the news didn't take a side.

Overall, out of 1,003 adults surveyed, 75 percent were familiar with the attack. Check out the full report here.

$$$$$

Fed will wait to raise interest rates, citing 'solid' economic growth

5:57pm ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. Federal Reserve will remain patient in raising interest rates, waiting until at least June, the Federal Open Market Committee hinted in its report Wednesday.

The report said economic activity has been "expanding at a solid pace," in what The New York Times called "its most upbeat economic assessment since the recession." However, it did also mention that inflation is weak, reflecting drops in energy prices.

Quotables

Rand Paul to drone fliers: 'Beware, because I've got a shotgun'

5:25pm ET

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spent part of his Wednesday on Snapchat, taking questions in what the company is calling its first legislator interview.

During the interview, the potential 2016 contender said drones should be used only according to the Constitution, then added that drone operators near his house "better beware, because I've got a shotgun."

The lawmaker also fielded the inevitable question: Will he run in 2016?

"Maybe. They may have to make the fence and guard the fence a little bit better than they have been doing lately." —Julie Kliegman

put down that cigarette

E-cigarettes labeled a 'health threat' in California report

5:11pm ET
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A new study by the California Department of Public Health released Wednesday declares that e-cigarettes and their secondhand aerosols are indeed health hazardous, despite the popular belief that they are significantly less harmful than regular cigarettes. Among other things, the report found that e-cigarettes emit chemicals that are known to cause cancer and birth defects, and that their effectiveness in helping users quit smoking traditional cigarettes is unclear. 

Though California outlawed the sale of e-cigarettes to minors years ago, the report also claims that they put youth at greater risk than traditional cigarettes. This is mainly because e-cigs aren't bound to the same marketing restrictions — flavored e-cigs are legal, while flavored cigarettes are not, for example — that traditional cigarettes are.

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