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March 29, 2014

In the Battle for Fast Food Chain Dominance, Taco Bell made a bold swipe at go-to breakfast choice McDonald's by releasing its own breakfast menu this week. And just to make sure that everyone understood — We're Taking On McDonald's — Taco Bell released commercials driving home the message:

Not to be outdone, McDonald's answered with a pretty clever tweet:

But Taco Bell President Brian Niccol apparently doesn't think promoting a new line of waffle tacos, A.M. Crunchwraps, and other choices while responding to a main competitor is enough on his plate. No, he gave Canada an ultimatum when he took to Reddit on Thursday in an AMA.

"Only in America? When is this coming to Canada?" a poster asked.

"When you take Justin Bieber back," Niccol shot back.

McDonald's, you may have just found a new ally. Sarah Eberspacher

10:49 a.m. ET
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Astronomers searching for life on other planets have picked up a "strong signal" that has the faintest chance of indicating an "extraterrestrial civilization," Ars Technica reports. The signal comes from the direction of a star about 95 light years from earth, and has at least one nearby planet.

The star, HD 164595, is part of the constellation Hercules; the signal was discovered by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia. "This is a bit of a puzzling story, as the Russians found this signal a year ago or so, but just didn't let others know," senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, told GeekWire.

"No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it's certainly worth further study," Centauri Dreams blogger Pual Glister explained. He added that if the strength of the signal came from an isotropic beacon, it would only be possible for a Kardashev Type II civilization — one capable of harnessing the energy from a star.

"The possibility of noise of one form or another cannot be ruled out ... but the signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target," Glister went on.

Texas A&M University astronomer Nick Suntzeff said people should curb their expectations, though. "I would follow it if I were the astronomers, but I would also not hype the fact that it may be at SETI signal given the significant chance it could be something military," he told Ars Technica. Jeva Lange

9:48 a.m. ET
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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is defending herself before the nation's Senate on Monday during her impeachment trial, following accusations she illegally tinkered with the budget to hide the national deficit and, in doing so, hurt the economy. Rousseff has claimed the allegations are entirely false and are promoted by corrupt lawmakers.

During her defense, Rousseff reiterated that she is innocent of committing a crime and said her conscience is "absolutely clean." She also touted her popularity and record as a resistance fighter, the BBC reports.

The impeachment vote is scheduled for Tuesday, when 54 of 81 senators would have to vote in favor of her impeachment for it to be successful. Brazilian paper Folha de São Paulo reports that so far, 52 senators are in favor of impeachment, 18 against, and 11 could go either way.

If Rousseff is indeed impeached, acting President Michel Temer will serve out the remainder of Rousseff's term, which ends December 2018. Jeva Lange

9:26 a.m. ET
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Lightning killed reindeer in apocalyptic proportions during a thunderstorm in central Norway, the Norwegian Environment Agency reports. The shocking event left 323 of the animals dead, including 70 calves. "We have not heard about such number before," agency spokesman Kjartan Knutsen told The Associated Press.

Reindeer are occasionally killed by lightning strikes, but seldom in such large numbers; Knutsen believes the reason so many perished at once on the Hardangervidda plateau is because reindeer huddle together in bad weather.

The incident could be the deadliest lightning strike in history, The Verge reports. In 2005, 68 cows were killed by a lightning strike in Australia, while in 1971, 91 people were killed after lightning struck their plane, causing it to crash. Jeva Lange

9:09 a.m. ET
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Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner reportedly sent sexually explicit photos and texts to a woman on multiple occasions in the past 19 months, the New York Post reports. Weiner allegedly tried to get the woman to meet him, and sent her multiple images, including a photo of his crotch with his toddler visible on the bed beside him:

Weiner was clearly aroused by his conversation with the 40-something divorcee when he abruptly changed the subject.

"Someone just climbed into my bed," Weiner wrote.

"Really?" she responded.

Weiner then hit "Send" on the cringe-inducing image, which shows a bulge in his white, Jockey-brand boxer briefs and his son cuddled up to his left, wrapped in a light-green blanket.

"You do realize you can see you[r] Weiner in that pic??" the woman wrote. [New York Post]

The woman spoke anonymously to the Post, and is described as a Donald Trump supporter whom Weiner called "literally a fantasy chick." Weiner, however, told the Post that while he was friends with the woman, their conversations were "private ... and were always appropriate." His Twitter account was deleted on Monday.

Weiner, who is married to top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, resigned from the House of Representatives in 2011 after accidentally posting sexual images to his Twitter account and admitting to sending sexual texts and images to "about six women." He later lost the 2013 New York City mayoral race when another woman claimed he'd sent her explicit photos. Jeva Lange

8:35 a.m. ET
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The manufacturer of the lifesaving allergy drug EpiPen said Monday that it will release a generic version of the medicine for a list price of $300 for two, following widespread criticism after the company, Mylan, dramatically increased the price from $100 for two to as much as $700 since 2007.

The generic form of the drug will be available in both 0.15 and 0.30 mg in strength.

The announcement follows backlash over the steep increase in price, including outrage expressed by Hillary Clinton. Mylan also announced last week a savings card for patients with higher out-of-pocket costs, which, Reuters reported, will cover "up to $300" for a two-pack of epinephrine dispensers and cut costs for a patient paying list price by about 50 percent. Jeva Lange

8:11 a.m. ET
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Chinese police have arrested a 52-year-old man from Lanzhou who they believe murdered 11 people during a 14-year rampage. If confirmed, the arrest of Gao Chengyong could mark the end of a nearly three-decade-long hunt for China's "Jack the Ripper."

The first of the killer's victims, 23, was murdered in 1988, and discovered with 26 stab wounds; the youngest victim was 8. "The killings, the last in 2002, had several characteristics in common. The killer tended to single out women who were wearing red. He is said to have followed them home, usually attacking them during the daytime. Sometimes he raped them before stabbing them to death, and sometimes he did so after they had died," The New York Times reports. The killer was deemed "China's Jack the Ripper," after the Victorian serial killer of the same name who was never caught.

Gao was arrested after his uncle was booked for a minor offense; the uncle's DNA indicated he was related to the killer. After being arrested at his grocery store, Gao confessed to the killings.

The arrest comes as a shock to Gao's family; the alleged killer apparently lived a normal life, raising two sons. "I didn't know what to say, or how to deal with it," one son told the news website Everyday Portfolio. Jeva Lange

7:44 a.m. ET

Donald Trump is getting a taste of his own medicine: While the Republican nominee has successfully branded his political enemies with nicknames like "Lyin' Ted Cruz" and "Crooked Hillary Clinton," Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough came up with a moniker of his own for Trump, and it appears to be sticking.

"A lot of people are calling him Amnesty Don. People are saying it," Scarborough said Monday. "They're calling him Amnesty Don. Amnesty Don, that's what people are calling him, I'm not calling him that. Amnesty Don. Hashtag Amnesty Don. For 14 months, Amnesty Don has been putting illegal immigration at the center of Amnesty Don's campaign... And, yet, nobody in Amnesty Don's own campaign can tell you what Amnesty Don's position is after Amnesty Don won the primaries promising to deport 11 [million illegal immigrants]."

While "Amnesty Don" might not have the same supervillain-like appeal as "Crooked Hillary Clinton," it is a rather brutal mocking of Trump's latest flip-flop. Trump claimed last week that he is "softening" his immigration positions, and would mostly follow President Obama's policies, "perhaps with a lot more energy," except he will eject the "bad" immigrants "so fast your head will spin." This is contrary to Trump's former promise to deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

Watch Scarborough's masterful branding — hey, he learned by watching the best — below. Jeva Lange

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