10 things you need to know today: December 9, 2023

Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks woman from receiving abortion, European Union reaches world-first deal on AI regulations, and more

A woman protests at the Texas capitol
A pro-choice protester at the Texas capitol building in 2022
(Image credit: Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP via Getty Images)

1. Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks woman from receiving abortion

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily blocked a woman who is 20 weeks pregnant from having an abortion after the state's attorney general requested they do so. The order placed an administrative hold on the abortion requested by Kate Cox, 31, after a district judge had previously allowed her procedure to move forward. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote the Supreme Court a letter asking the lower court's ruling to be halted and also threatened legal action if hospitals performed Cox's abortion. The Supreme Court is slated to hear the merits of the case at a later date. Cox's fetus has a genetic condition, Trisomy 18, that often results in miscarriage or stillbirth. The Washington Post, The Texas Tribune

2. European Union reaches world-first deal on AI regulations

The European Union reached a deal Friday to implement vast new regulations on the use of artificial intelligence. The agreement was reached following 37 hours of negotiations between the EU member states and the European Parliament. Known as the AI Act, the regulations place new levels of scrutiny on companies using AI throughout the EU. This includes new transparency requirements for AI systems, protections against the spread of misinformation and the use of facial recognition software. European Commissioner Thierry Breton noted that the agreement makes Europe "the very first continent to set clear rules for the use of AI," describing it as a "launchpad for EU startups and researchers to lead the global AI race." The New York Times, The Guardian

3. US vetoes UN resolution calling for Gaza cease-fire

The United States vetoed a motion Friday from the United Nations calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. The motion was introduced by the United Arab Emirates and backed by U.N. Security General Antonio Guterres, who urged members of the body's Security Council to approve the call. The motion was agreed to by 13 of the 15 Security Council members, with the United States voting against and the United Kingdom abstaining. The draft of the cease-fire had been co-signed by 97 other U.N. member states, and comes as civilian casualties in Gaza continue to rise as Israel moves ahead with its bombardment of the territory. Axios, Politico

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4. Israel continuing with bombardments in Gaza

Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza on Saturday as warplanes dropped bombs throughout the territory, including a number of regions where Israel had previously told Palestinian civilians to flee. The strikes, which came a day after the United States vetoed a resolution calling for a cease-fire, have led to a death toll in Gaza of more than 17,000 since Hamas' Oct. 7 terrorist attack prompted the war. Israel continues to place the blame for civilian deaths on Hamas, saying the group is using Palestinians as human shields. However, the areas where Palestinians can be safe from bombardment in Gaza are continuing to shrink as Israel expands its campaign of attack. The Associated Press, Reuters

5. US, South Korea and Japan to ramp up initiatives on North Korean cyber attacks

Officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan agreed Saturday to ramp up their combined efforts to stop North Korean threats from cyberspace. The agreement came during a trilateral meeting in Seoul between national security officials, just weeks after North Korea said it successfully launched its first spy satellite into orbit. The three allies had previously agreed to strengthen security ties, and the countries "launched new trilateral initiatives to counter the threats posed by [North Korea], from its cybercrime and cryptocurrency money laundering to its reckless space and ballistic missile tests," U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters after the meeting. Bloomberg, Reuters

6. More than $6 billion granted for high-speed rail developments

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday announced it had allocated more than $6 billion for high-speed rail projects in Nevada and California. This includes the ramping up of production on Brightline West, a 218-mile high-speed train route that would connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas in two hours. There were also additional funds allocated to a high-speed track that would connect Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than three hours. Brightline, the company behind the projects, is already operating the country's first high-speed rail system between Miami and Orlando. The funds were part of an $8.2 billion total allocation for rail projects across the United States. NPR, NBC News

7. FDA approves gene therapy treatment for sickle cell disease

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a pair of gene therapy treatments for sickle cell disease in what is being heralded as a breakthrough in the fight against the blood disorder. The therapies are the first FDA-approved treatments using the gene-editing tool CRISPR, and makes sickle cell the most common illness yet to become treatable using gene therapy. While the treatments are initially cost-prohibitive and limited to those who have severe forms of the disease — estimated to be around 20,000 people — experts are optimistic that the breakthrough could open the door for widespread use of the procedures in the future. USA Today, The Wall Street Journal

8. Southwest flight attendants reject proposed contract with airline

Southwest Airlines flight attendants rejected a tentative agreement between their union and the airline, bringing the parties back to square one ahead of the holiday travel season. The vote, announced Friday by the Transport Workers Union Local 556, saw flight attendants overwhelmingly reject the deal by a 64% to 36% tally. "We have seen the results ... and we've heard you," union president Linda Montgomery said.  "We've heard that we must stand united, ever further, even stronger to deliver the results that are required." The tentative agreement would've seen Southwest flight attendants receive raises of up to 36%, but the majority of employees had pushed for more. CBS News

9. Oxford High School mass shooter sentenced to life without parole

Ethan Crumbley, the perpetrator of the 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Crumbley murdered four students and wounded seven others during the shooting. "The terror that he caused in the state of Michigan — and in Oxford — is a true act of terrorism," Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwame Rowe said while announcing the verdict. Rowe also rejected the premise that Crumbley had carried out the shooting due to mental illness. The shooter was 15 at the time, and his parents are also facing criminal charges for allegedly aiding in the attacks by allowing their son to possess a gun. Detroit Free Press

10. 'Love Story' actor Ryan O’Neal dies at 82

Actor Ryan O'Neal, the star of classic films such as "Love Story," "Paper Moon" and "Barry Lyndon," died Friday at the age of 82. O'Neal's son Patrick wrote on Instagram that his father "passed away peacefully today, with his loving team by his side." Beginning his career in the 1960s, O'Neal became endeared to audiences alongside Ali MacGraw in "Love Story." The romantic film established O'Neal's legacy in Hollywood and propelled him to stardom. It also earned him an Oscar nomination, though his off-screen life and relationships were more strained in the tabloid press. He also had a well-documented relationship with actress and model Farah Fawcett. CNN

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