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October 19, 2017

On Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office said it will convene a special cabinet meeting over the weekend to trigger Article 155 of the constitution, kicking off a process of reining in Catalonia's regional autonomy. Rajoy had given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont until 10 a.m. Thursday (local time) to clarify if the region had declared independence or not after an Oct. 1 referendum — Puigdemont had signed a declaration of independence then suspended it, asking for talks with Madrid. Puigdemont's response Thursday morning was that the regional parliament would likely approve a formal declaration of independence if Rajoy continued to "impede dialogue and continues its repression."

It isn't clear exactly what steps Rajoy's government will submit to the Senate to take partial control of Catalonia. Article 155 of the 1978 constitution has never been used before. But analysts say Madrid can't fully suspend Catalonia's autonomy but can take steps like taking control of the regional police, taking over Catalonia's finances, and calling a snap election. Peter Weber

5:16 p.m.

Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue and the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand are all "part of a club that nobody wants to be a part of."

That's how Tree of Life President Sam Schachner described his congregation's relationship to the two mosques that lost 50 worshippers to a mass shooting on Friday. And that's why the congregation has launched a GoFundMe fundraiser hoping to raise $100,000 for Christchurch's Muslim community, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details.

In October, a gunman killed 11 members at the Pittsburgh synagogue, prompting "overwhelming support ... from our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh," the GoFundMe details. Tree of Life is still continuing to recover, the GoFundMe says, but it still wants to recognize that the New Zealand worshippers are "going through the most difficult moments in your lives." So the synagogue is asking its supporters to show victims in Christchurch that "the entire world is with them," it wrote on the GoFundMe.

The GoFundMe started Saturday and had raised $2,736 a bit less than 24 hours later, the Post-Gazette notes. As of 5 p.m. EST on Monday, it had skyrocketed to $17,305 with donations coming in constantly. Read more about the campaign at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, or find the GoFundMe here. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:14 p.m.

It's not every day that chocolate stirs up controversy, but Cadbury — a major British chocolate company — felt the wrath of the United Kingdom's archaeologists and museum curators over the weekend after launching a misguided advertising campaign.

The marketing push, which has been temporarily taken down, was meant to promote Cadbury's Freddo Treasures chocolates by encouraging customers to go out and hunt for real treasure around the U.K. in the region's "top treasure hotspots," reports The New York Times.

The ads included text such as "grab your metal detector and go hunting for Roman riches" or "dig up Viking silver on the River Ribble," saying "the treasure's fair game."

The only problem is that digging in those protected spots would literally be looting. And the protectors of Britain's historic sites and artifacts let the corporation know it. Tim O'Donnell

4:22 p.m.

The chaos that is Brexit continued in classic form on Monday, despite a reprieve from the voting carousel that took place last week, as the March 29 departure deadline rapidly approaches.

The speaker of Britain's House of Commons, John Bercow, said on Monday that he plans to block a third vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's European Union withdrawal agreement — which faced two resounding defeats in Parliament already — unless May could present a "substantially" different deal this time around.

Adding to the drama is the fact that Bercow did not notify May's office of his decision ahead of time, which subsequently, The Washington Post reports, created "further uncertainty" about Brexit's future.

"We are in a major constitutional crisis here," Robert Buckland, the government's solicitor general, told BBC in a television interview, per The New York Times.

Parliament is still waiting to hear whether Brussels will agree to an extension of Article 50 that would delay Brexit beyond March 29, but, as May has noted, an extension could only prolong the problem. Still, the prime minister will travel to EU headquarters on Thursday to attempt to broker an agreement. Tim O'Donnell

4:09 p.m.

New legislation banning "fake news" and making it illegal to "disrespect" the government online has just been signed into law in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed legislation that says fines of up to 1.5 million rubles, or about $23,000, can be imposed for spreading "unreliable socially significant information," Bloomberg reports. It also bans exhibiting "blatant disrespect" online for Russia or its "authorities, the public, the Russian flag or the constitution," per Reuters. Showing this "blatant disrespect" can result in fines or jail time.

Under the bill, a state media watchdog can block websites that will not remove material that is determined to be in violation of the law, per The Washington Post. Critics fear, The Straits Times reports, that the legislation "is vaguely worded and would have large scope for abuse," allowing Russian officials to easily silence critics.

One expert told the Post that this new law "gives the prosecutor's office an extremely high authority and almost completely eliminates the Russian (albeit completely non-free) courts from the game," while another warned it gives the prosecutor general "essentially unconstrained authority to determine that any speech is unacceptable under the new law." Brendan Morrow

2:50 p.m.

2020 Democrats may have found their common enemy — and it's not President Trump.

Last week, former congressmember and Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke joined the wide field of Democrats aiming for the presidency. But instead of Trump using O'Rourke's increasingly popular name to rile up his fans, it was actually fellow Democrats who started shoving "Beto" into their fundraising email subject lines.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was one of the first Democrats to welcome O'Rourke into the race, firing off a very kind email complete with an exclamation point. But she quickly pivoted, pointing out that "more candidates" could easily mean less support for her, so you should donate and show "you're with Elizabeth." Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was a little more blunt, pointedly naming O'Rourke when she said she wanted to "engag[e] in substantive debates" with the extra-large 2020 pool and using just O'Rourke's name in the subject line.

Yet it was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who had the harshest dig, acknowledging in a Monday email that yes, O'Rourke crushed Sanders' 24-hour fundraising record. But you know what, "we more than likely had a lot more individual donations than he did," Sanders' email sassily continued.

Even if Democrats aren't necessarily pointing out O'Rourke as an enemy, it's pretty clear using his name as a subject line gets clicks, New York Magazine's Gabriel Debenedetti points out. And of course, throwing an extra layer of drama into the fundraising scramble doesn't hurt either. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:45 p.m.

If you thought making decisions for a fictional character was difficult in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, steel yourself for the challenge of making them for an actual human being.

Netflix on Monday announced the new live-action series You vs. Wild, which will follow the adventures of survival expert Bear Grylls as he traverses "dense jungles, towering mountains, brutal deserts and mysterious forests," per Deadline. But unlike Grylls' previous shows where he attempts to survive in the wilderness like Man vs. Wild, this one will be interactive, meaning viewers make decisions that guide where the episodes go.

Netflix's description of the show teases some "tough decisions" while adding that "whether or not Bear succeeds or fails is totally up to you." As Grylls himself told Variety: "The stakes are high in this one!"

This is the latest example of interactive storytelling from Netflix after the success of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a movie released as part of the popular sci-fi anthology show. At various points during Bandersnatch, viewers are asked to pick one of two possible choices, and this causes the story to branch out in different directions and results in multiple potential endings, although some choices lead to dead ends. When it was released in December, The New York Times reported that Netflix planned for more pieces of interactive storytelling in genres "from horror to romantic comedy."

You vs. Wild is the streamer's next step, although while Bandersnatch was just one film, this is a full eight-episode series. It will be released on April 10. Watch a trailer below. Brendan Morrow

2:17 p.m.

Most eyes will be on the likely future no. 1 NBA draft pick, Zion Williamson, and his Duke teammates throughout this year's NCAA tournament. But the first round remains the best opportunity to catch a glimpse of some under-the-radar teams, players, and storylines. Here are the most intriguing, non-Duke-related match-ups in each region.

West Region — No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Murray State: The most exciting match-up of the first round will pit two of the country's most gifted players against each other. Murray State is led by guard Ja Morant, who could go as high as no. 2 overall in the NBA draft. Markus Howard, a diminutive guard who averages a prolific 25 points per game, headlines Marquette.

Midwest Region — No. 7 Wofford vs. No. 10 Seton Hall: These teams don't jump off the page in a region that features blue bloods like North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas, but Wofford and Seton Hall have been playing high quality basketball lately. Wofford went undefeated in the Southern Conference and hasn't lost a game since December. Seton Hall's 20-13 record might seem suspect, but the Pirates have victories over Kentucky, Maryland, Marquette, and Villanova.

East Region — No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Minnesota: This contest between two mid-tier power conference schools gets a nod thanks to some off-court drama: Minnesota's coach Richard Pitino is the son of Hall-of-Fame coach Rick Pitino, who once led Louisville to three Final Fours and a national title. The Pitino family's relationship with Louisville didn't end well, though, when the elder Pitino was fired after multiple scandals and Louisville's 2013 title run was vacated.

South Region — No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 11 St. Mary's: The defending champion Wildcats aren't as talented as last season's team, but head coach Jay Wright and seniors Phil Booth and Eric Paschall will make this squad a tough out. Awaiting them, though, is St. Mary's, fresh off an upset over no. 1 seed Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference tournament championship. The two sides have some history, as well — during the 2010 NCAA tournament, the Gaels, then a 10-seed, defeated the no. 2-seeded Villanova to advance to the Sweet 16. Tim O'Donnell

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