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Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined Pennsylvania Republicans' request to delay the drawing of a congressional map before this year's midterm election.

Why it matters: This is a significant blow to the GOP's effort to fight the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling last month that said the state's 18 congressional district lines, which give Republicans an electoral edge, “clearly, plainly and palpably” violated the state’s constitution.

The backdrop: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Republican-controlled state legislature to draw the new congressional map by February 9 and for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to submit it to the court by February 15. The court also ruled that next month's special election to replace Republican Rep. Tim Murphy will still take place under the current congressional map. The GOP has a 13-5 seat advantage in the state's U.S. House delegation.

What they're saying:

  • Gov. Wolf lauded the decision in a statement, saying “there is no reason to delay implementing” the court order. “Now, all parties must focus on getting a fair map in place”
  • Pennsylvania House Speaker Michael Turzai (R) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R), who petitioned the Supreme Court to halt the redistricting ruling, said in a joint statement that their “request was necessary.” They added that they'd “do [their] best” to draw a new map by the deadline, "but may be compelled to pursue further legal action in federal court.”
"We still do not believe that there was a violation of the state Constitution, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court can direct us to draw a new congressional map, or that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has the authority to draw a new Congressional District Map under the Pennsylvania Constitution or United States Constitution." — Turzai and Scarnati said in the statement.

Go deeper: The gerrymandering cases to watch in 2018

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New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.

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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

AI companies are developing methods to translate and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.

Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.

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A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

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