From an update on the EU's AI Act to menopausal whales – Here are today's Headlines

The EU finalized years of work on Wednesday, with the European Parliament approving the EU AI Act.

From an update on the EU's AI Act to menopausal whales – Here are today's Headlines
European flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, September 20, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

The latest on the EU's AI Act

The EU finalized years of work on Wednesday, with the European Parliament approving the EU AI Act. It categorizes artificial intelligence (AI) into different risk levels and focuses on transparency. It also sets guidelines for disclosing AI-generated content and registering the basic models used. The primary goal is to safeguard consumers by evaluating AI applications according to their risks. Here's the backstory.

"The AI act is not the end of the journey but the starting point for new governance built around technology," said Dragos Tudorache, a lawmaker who oversaw EU negotiations on the agreement. 

SpaceX’s third launch test

SpaceX Starship
SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft, atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket, lifts off on its third launch from the company's Boca Chica launchpad on an uncrewed test flight, near Brownsville, Texas, U.S. March 14, 2024. REUTERS/Cheney Orr TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Starship went for its third test flight on Thursday from Boca Chica, Texas, which was streamed live. It successfully flew halfway around the globe, reaching space but not orbit. But then SpaceX lost contact with the spacecraft as it re-entered the atmosphere and descended into the Indian Ocean. It's believed that it either burned up or came apart during re-entry. Despite this, Musk viewed the outcome of the flight as significant progress, posting on X that "Starship will take humanity to Mars." Here's the backstory.

"The team has made the call that the ship has been lost, so no splashdown today," said Dan Huot, SpaceX communications manager, during the live broadcast. "But again, just it's incredible to see how much further we got this time around."

Tesla growth fears

Tesla growth EV market
A general view of a Tesla's Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg building, a part of the electric car manufacture, in Gruenheide, Germany July 18, 2023. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse//File Photo

Wall Street has been less optimistic about Tesla lately. For example, Wells Fargo downgraded Tesla's rating to "underweight." The bank is concerned that Tesla's price cuts aren't boosting demand for EVs as much as expected. This, along with a drop in Tesla's share price target from US$200 to US$120, shows growing doubts about the EV maker's future. Here's the backstory.

"While an EV and battery technology leader, Tesla screens poorly relative to Mag 7 peers," said Colin Langan, an analyst at Wells Fargo.

To end, we'll look into:

What can you do to become a morning person?

Are you a morning person or a night owl? There are tons of self-help books out there that offer different advice on how to improve your sleep and how to become a morning person if you aren’t already. So what’s the consensus?

“Everybody’s ‘clock’ is set a little differently,” says Leisha Cuddihy, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester’s Comprehensive Sleep Center, to the New York Times. “You may never wake up totally ready to go and wanting to do stuff,” she adds. Click here for more.

In other news ...

📰Middle East update: US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish and a supporter of Israel, criticized Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu's government and called for new elections on Thursday, saying the current administration "no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7." Meanwhile, the Israeli military has said it plans to move 1.4 million displaced Palestinians from Gaza's southern city of Rafah to "humanitarian enclaves" before launching a ground offensive in the area. The US has also put more sanctions on Jewish settlers in the West Bank accused of harassing and attacking Palestinians. 

👨‍⚖️EU sues its Commissioner: In December, European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen released €10.2 billion (US$11.1 billion) in frozen funds to Hungary to convince it to lift its veto on aid for Ukraine, despite Brussels blocking the funding after the country defied EU laws. The European Parliament has now agreed to sue the Commission over this, which may hinder her bid to be Commissioner for a second term this year. 

🌈Japan's same-sex marriage ban: Two courts in Tokyo and Sapporo have ruled the nation's ban on same-sex marriage to be "unconstitutional," saying it breaches citizen's rights. This comes as the Japanese government faces increasing pressure to legalize same-sex marriage. 

👩‍🦰Denmark to conscript women: Denmark has announced plans to conscript women into military service for the first time to achieve "full equality between the sexes." Despite the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the Danish PM, Mette Frederiksen, has said, "We do not rearm because we want war. We are rearming because we want to avoid it." Denmark also plans to increase its defense budget by nearly US$6 billion in the next five years to adhere to NATO targets.

🍏Trouble for Apple in China: China's tech giant Huawei claimed the trademark rights for its "Vision Pro" brand back in 2021, according to records at the Trademark Office of China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA). Huawei's Vision Pro includes a range of products, like virtual reality (VR) headsets and wearable video displays. But, despite Apple applying for trademark rights to the brand "Vision Pro" and more recently for "Apple Vision Pro," the first is in the "refusal to reexamine phase," and the second is still under examination. So, the US tech giant may run into some problems selling its latest product in China.

💬Biden wants US Steel to stay in the US: Japan's Nippon Steel Corp. has put in a bid to buy out US Steel, but the deal is facing some regulatory scrutiny and push back from union workers. US President Joe Biden has just come out to say that the company should remain American-owned and operated.

🕵️‍♀️EU investigating AliExpress: As of Thursday, Chinese e-commerce giant AliExpress is now the first online marketplace to be investigated under the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA). The European Commission said it was looking into the "dissemination of illegal content," with the platform accused of not enforcing its own terms of service to keep certain products off the platform, like medicine, food and dietary supplements that could pose health risks. The Commission is also probing whether the company did enough to prevent minors from accessing porn on the marketplace.

🚀China's giant rail gun: Chinese scientists and engineers are planning to make the first working giant hypersonic railgun. It'll use an electromagnetic launch to shoot a hypersonic aircraft into space, traveling at seven times the speed of sound, as a new way of sending people to space.

🤑US buyers eyeing TikTok: TikTok is facing some trouble in the US, as a bill to force China's ByteDance to divest the app or be banned in the US is making its way through Congress. Now, former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he's spoken to potential co-investors about buying the app, adding that it's a "great business" and should be US-owned.

📺Paramount-Reliance deal: Last month, Reliance and Walt Disney agreed to merge their TV properties in India. Now, Paramount has said it will sell its 13% stake in its Indian TV business to Reliance for US$517 million. 

🐁Stoned rats: An aging and vermin-infested police headquarters building in New Orleans that's still in use has said that rats have made it into the evidence lock-up room and are eating confiscated weed. "The rats eating our marijuana, they're all high," Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick told city council members on Wednesday. The councilors are considering a proposal to spend US$7.6 million to temporarily relocate the police headquarters to the city's downtown area for 10 years.

😎Hollywood Road just got cooler: Global magazine Time Out has named Hong Kong's Hollywood Road in Soho, Central, the second-coolest street in the world. Time Out describes Hollywood Road as an art hub, home to many antique shops, art galleries, and Instagram-worthy murals. High Street in Melbourne took first place on the list.

💐Hong Kong Flower Show: The annual Hong Kong Flower Show will be held for 10 days beginning on Friday at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. Visitors will be able to bask in the fairy-tale-like flower exhibitions for this year's theme, "Floral Joy Around Town." A total of 229 organizations, including 81 exhibitors from 12 countries, including mainland China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, and the US, will be taking part in the show.

🚃"Art March" tram rides: To encourage Hong Kong citizens to take part in art and cultural events and activities across the city, Hongkongers will be able to ride on the Ding Ding tramway for free on Sunday for "Art March." Also, Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has said it will sign deals with 22 global institutions at a summit later this month to bring more works of art and performances from around the world into the city. 

⭐2024 Hong Kong Michelin Guide: This year's edition of the Michelin Guide to Hong Kong and Macau has arrived, and a few new restaurants have made it onto the list. Cristal Room by Anne-Sophie Pic, Feuille, Vicky Lau's Mora, Racines and The Legacy House in Hong Kong are new to the list, as well as Sushi Kinetsu in Macau. Noi at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong also earned its second star.

🐳Whale's menopause elongates life: Whales are among the few mammals besides humans that go through menopause. Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK have found that females in five species of whales who experience menopause could live for around 40 years longer because of it. The research suggests that menopause allows the whales to become grandmothers and take care of their families by sharing food or "babysitting."

Quiz Time!

What EV maker was just downgraded by Wells Fargo because of its growth outlook?

  1. BYD
  2. Rivian
  3. Lucid Motors
  4. Tesla

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [4]