'A significant de-escalation'

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In a call with Israel's prime minister, President Joe Biden ramped up pressure for a cease-fire in the Middle East. Texas passed a law that would effectively ban most abortions in the state. And what does it mean when someone says they are "nonbinary"? We break it down for you.

👋 It's Laura! Here's Wednesday's news.

But first, would you live on a sailboat? ⛵️ As housing costs rise, some folks in Florida are doing what they do best: taking to the seas. Who wouldn't want to be rocked to sleep by waves every night?

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Biden wants 'a significant de-escalation today'

Israel did not seem to be moving toward a cease-fire after President Joe Biden told the country's prime minister Wednesday he expects "a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire" in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke after Israel widened its strikes on Hamas targets, killing at least six people across the Gaza Strip and destroying the home of an extended family early Wednesday. Until now, Biden had not given Netanyahu a timeline for Israel’s military assault on Hamas but has been quietly ramping up pressure on Netanyahu to end the bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza amid mounting international alarm over the rising death toll and demands from Democrats in Congress for a cease-fire.

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces at the Hawara checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
Palestinians clash with Israeli forces at the Hawara checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

'Heartbeat' bill signed into law

Effectively banning most abortions in the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Wednesday that restricts abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law is slated to go into effect Sept. 1. Abortions will be allowed in Texas only before the presence of a fetal heartbeat, barring a medical emergency. The measure would allow virtually any private citizen to sue an abortion provider or others who “aid and abet” an abortion in violation of the ban. Drucilla Tigner, a policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said the law is "the most extreme abortion ban in the country," putting Texas at the forefront among the states challenging the boundaries of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case in 1973 that established a woman's legal right to an abortion.

  • ‘Huge numbers’ of abortion cases heading to Supreme Court to test limits of Roe v. Wade. Here's what you should know.

  • Addressing abortion rights: Here's how different states use 'heartbeat' bills, Roe v. Wade to handle abortion laws.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed abortion restrictions into law.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed abortion restrictions into law.

What everyone's talking about

  • Bodycam video showing Black man's deadly arrest by Louisiana troopers released after being withheld for 2 years.

  • You might recognize it from Netflix: The submerged village of Curon emerges from underwater for the first time in decades. You have got to see the pictures.

  • Moms of pandemic babies are 'terrified.' Here's why.

  • A high school football champion and honor student attempted suicide in 2014. Seven years and 58 surgeries later, his family is getting ready for his final surgery.

  • New kind of royals: On their third anniversary, Harry and Meghan embrace revolutionized royal roles.

Brood X emerges 👀

Like teenagers emerging from their bedroom on a Saturday morning, red-eyed periodical cicadas have been seen slowly making their way out from underground, where they have been hanging out for the past 17 years. The group of cicadas, known as Brood X, is expected to appear in the District of Columbia and about 15 states in the eastern USA. They're loud but harmless, according to experts, and the sounds should subside within two weeks. While above-ground, cicadas will lay their eggs, which will hatch four to six weeks later. Then, in a tale as old as time, their offspring will repeat the cycle and head back underground until 2038.

Twins Meena and Nyla Claytor-Howard, 4, find a group of cicadas at their grandmother's home in Burke, Va.
Twins Meena and Nyla Claytor-Howard, 4, find a group of cicadas at their grandmother's home in Burke, Va.

Summer in Europe, anyone?

Don't make your backpacking-across-Europe plans just yet. Summer vacations are a step closer to reality after European Union representatives agreed Wednesday to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated visitors and any traveler from countries where COVID-19 is under control. But the timing of the reopening is unclear. EU officials have said for weeks that summer travel would be allowed, but no dates have been released, and many of the details will be up to the 27 member countries. Final approval is likely this week by the Council of the European Union, but the lifting of travel restrictions isn't mandatory and won't come with a timetable. Be warned: Following the rules might get tricky, as travelers could face a hodgepodge of travel restrictions well into the summer.

A traveler checks in for a flight at O'Hare International Airport on Nov. 24, 2020. After dwindling during the pandemic, travel is making a comeback this spring.
A traveler checks in for a flight at O'Hare International Airport on Nov. 24, 2020. After dwindling during the pandemic, travel is making a comeback this spring.

Real quick

What does 'nonbinary' mean?

Some major stars have come out as nonbinary, and we thought you might want to know what that means. You've probably heard the term more frequently, and on Wednesday, Demi Lovato announced they were nonbinary and changed their pronouns to they/them.

👉 Defined: "Nonbinary" refers to someone who does not identify only as a man or a woman, i.e. the traditional gender binary, according to the Human Rights Campaign. They could identify as both a man and a woman, in between the two genders or not a part of any gender category at all. GLAAD offers a similar definition.

Other celebrities that who identify as nonbinary include former "Grey's Anatomy" star Sara Ramirez and Grammy-winning singer Sam Smith, who came out as nonbinary and genderqueer in 2019, sharing a few months later they use "they/them" pronouns after what the pop star called a "lifetime of being at war with my gender."

💡 It's a lot of information to cram into a small space. If you want to learn more, check out these links:

Demi Lovato has no secrets in "Dancing with the Devil."
Demi Lovato has no secrets in "Dancing with the Devil."

A break from the news

Tomorrow: A Twitter Spaces chat

Join us at 7 p.m. ET Thursday, May 20, on Twitter Spaces! Our reporters and photographers will be talking about our coverage in Minneapolis before, during and after the Derek Chauvin trial, their experiences, race, George Floyd and more. Be sure to follow @usatoday on Twitter to see the Space when it goes live.

Join USA TODAY on Twitter Spaces for a conversation on the Chauvin trial.
Join USA TODAY on Twitter Spaces for a conversation on the Chauvin trial.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas abortion law, Middle East, Cicadas, European travel. It's Wednesday's news.

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