The Spanish cabinet was meeting on Saturday to prepare to impose direct rule on Catalonia and thwart a drive by the autonomous region to breakaway from Spain.
It will be the first time in Spain`s four decades of democracy that Madrid has invoked the constitutional right to take control of a region and rule it directly from Madrid.
Independence supporters were due to rally in the Catalan capital Barcelona on Saturday afternoon.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists that Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who heads the wealthy northeastern region`s government, has broken the law several times in pushing for independence, thus justifying the imposition of central government control.
Direct rule would be temporary and could range from dismissing the regional government to a softer approach of removing heads of specific departments.
The exact measures must be agreed and voted upon in Spain`s upper house, the Senate, and Rajoy wants the broadest consensus possible.
The main opposition Socialists said on Friday they would back special measures and had agreed on the holding of regional elections in January.
The government declined to confirm this, saying only that regional elections were likely and the details would be announced on Saturday.
Rajoy received the backing of the head of state, King Felipe, on Friday, who said at a public ceremony that "Catalonia is and will remain an essential part" of Spain.
"Spain needs to face up to an unacceptable secession attempt on its national territory, which it will resolve through its legitimate democratic institutions," said the king, a ceremonial figure who had criticised Catalan leaders earlier this month.
The independence push has brought on Spain`s worst political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981 several years after the end of the Franco dictatorship.
It has met with strong opposition across the rest of Spain, divided Catalonia itself, and raised the prospect of prolonged street protests.
It has also led Madrid to cut economic growth forecasts and prompted hundreds of firms to move their headquarters from Catalonia.
Spain has the euro zone`s fourth-largest economy and Catalonia accounts for a fifth of it.
Pro-independence groups have mustered more than one million people onto the streets in protest at Madrid`s refusal to negotiate a solution.
Heavy-handed police tactics to shut down a an independence referendum on Oct.
1 that the government had declared illegal drew criticism from human rights groups.
Regional authorities said about 90 percent of those who cast ballots voted for independence.
But only 43 percent of voters participated and opponents of secession mostly stayed home.
Activist organisations ANC and Omnium have called on their supporters to rally at 16:00 p.
London time in Barcelona, the region`s principal city, in protest at the jailing of their leaders over sedition accusations.
John Taylor, professor of economics at Stanford University, speaks during a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.
, on Thursday, Oct.
Monetary policy rules like the so-called Taylor Rule could lead officials to make mistakes because they aren`t forward-looking and they don`t incorporate key forces shaping the economy, said Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C.
Dudley at the event.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** John Taylor John Taylor has a complicated history with the U.
Federal Reserve that could force him into a hard pivot if he’s selected as its next leader.
The Stanford University economist, who is on President Donald Trump’s short list to lead the central bank, wrote the monetary policy rule that Fed officials use as a constant reference, and many of the institution’s own economists are schooled in his ideas.
On the other hand, he’s been a vocal critic of recent Fed policy, arguing that the institution should hew closer to the recommendations of his formula and be less discretionary in its policy setting.
Taylor would not be able to force an about-face overnight if he were Trump’s pick.
The chair has only one vote on policy, and since former Chairman Ben Bernanke’s time at the helm, consensus has been the standard for decision-making.
The current crop of central bankers generally reject Taylor’s world view as too rigid.
That means as chair, Taylor would likely have to compromise, coax, and work within the existing, discretionary framework -- something of a turnabout for a man who is one of its leading critics.
“Whoever is the next Fed chair is going to have to work collaboratively,” said Tony Fratto, managing partner at Hamilton Place Strategies in Washington and a former U.
Treasury Department official who worked closely with Taylor for several years.
Of Taylor, he said, “Can he do it? Yes, I think he can do it.
But I also think there’s no choice but to do it.
” History of Criticism Trump told Fox Business that he’s considering Taylor, Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell, current Chair Janet Yellen, and a “couple of others” to lead the central bank.
Yellen’s term expires in February.
The Fox News interview will be broadcast Sunday and Monday.
“I will make my decision very shortly,” Trump said.
Taylor, a frequent witness on Fed policy at the House Financial Services Committee, has mocked the Fed’s mortgage bond purchases as “mondustrial policy,” and as early as 2009 warned that the “enormous” increase in bank reserves would stoke too much inflation, a worry that hasn’t materialized.
Before Yellen, all three previous Fed chairs were reappointed by a president of another party, giving incumbents an advantage in their second term.
For that reason, challengers position themselves as discontinuity candidates, said Sarah Binder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of a new book on the Fed’s relationship with Congress.
The Fed “is being treated as a political institution, not that different than other institutions,” Binder said, adding that self-styled change candidates are running against the insiders.
That could play well in a White House that has appointed critics of agencies to lead them, such as Scott Pruitt, the current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, which has Fed oversight authority, have voiced a clear preference for getting rid of Yellen.
Mike Crapo, the Idaho Republican who chairs the Senate panel, said in an Oct.
19 interview he “disagreed” with Fed policies such as quantitative easing and wants the central bank to “change direction.
” The Rule Taylor has advocated for use of prescriptive policy rules in the wake of the financial crisis, like the one he set out in 1993.
It now bears his name.
“World monetary policy now seems to have moved into a strategy-free zone," he wrote in 2015.
In the same paper, he supported Republican-backed legislation requiring the Fed to adopt rule-based policy making that would have it explain any deviation to lawmakers.
Taylor “has supported just about every Fed reform proposal by House Republicans, to the displeasure of, I expect, everyone inside” the Fed system, said former Fed Governor Laurence Meyer, who now runs a policy research firm.
“That raises the question of how successful would he be as a consensus builder and leader within the FOMC.
" Fed policy makers regularly argue that subjecting the Fed to a rule -- and forcing it to explain deviations to Congress -- would curb independence and hurt the economy.
Hawkish Turn What’s more, the rule, depending on the economic assumptions that are plugged into it, might call for several rate hikes: the baseline Taylor Rule model indicates policy rates around 3.
75 percent, versus the Fed’s current target range of 1 percent to 1.
The Fed has deviated sharply from its suggested path in recent years as the post-recession economy has struggled to gain steam.
It’s not clear whether Taylor would want to push rates up immediately, or whether he’d stick to the gradual path of increases the Fed is already treading.
Taylor indicated a willingness to be pragmatic during remarks at a Oct.
13 conference hosted by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren.
For his part, Rosengren said that “most people who end up being the chair, no matter who they are, tend to be a little bit more flexible in their thinking when they’re actually making the decision.
” One reason to diverge from the recommendations of the rule is that it would have been a poor guide during the financial crisis.
Policy was in a bind when officials cut rates to zero in 2008 following the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
The Taylor rule would’ve recommended dipping into negative territory during the recession, but policy makers worried that would harm the nation’s banks and cause a damaging public and political backlash.
  Since 2012, applying the rule would have called for higher rates than the Fed has actually set -- arguably a wrong approach, since inflation has lagged and is still well under its 2 percent target.
To be fair, Taylor has always said his rule is a guideline, not a mechanical tool, and so the Fed could deviate from its prescriptions.
They’d just need a good reason to do so.
The Fed already looks at rules, but to formalize that process by tying policy explicitly to one would be a major change, said Peter Conti-Brown, a Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
“It’s about the creation of a new consensus, and I don’t know that he has the skill-set to accomplish this,” Conti-Brown said.
“John Taylor could be one of the most disruptive Fed chairs in its history, if he can persuade the internal actors within the system that all this time, he was right, and they were wrong.
The Israeli army struck three artillery cannons in Syria in retaliation for an earlier rocket barrage.
Forces within Syria launched five missiles, with four of them landing on Israeli territory, the Israel Defense Forces said in a text message on Saturday.
“Whether errant fire or not, any future occurrences will force the IDF to intensify its response,” the text message said.
The Israeli army "holds the Syrian regime accountable for any aggression from within its territory.
Several people have been lightly injured by a man wielding a knife in the German city of Munich, police said.
Officers are searching for the attacker, who fled the scene.
The motive for the assault is unknown, a police statement said.
Residents nearby were told to stay indoors while the suspect remains at large.
None of the victims suffered life threatening injuries, police said.
They described the suspect as a man in his 40s who fled on a black bicycle.
The suspect was wearing gray trousers, a green training jacket, and carrying a backpack and sleeping mat, they added.
The Spanish cabinet is expected to approve measures allowing the government to impose direct rule over Catalonia.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy meets with his cabinet almost three weeks after the region held a referendum.
The Spanish government says the vote was illegal, but Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says he has been given a mandate to declare independence.
As a result, the central government is preparing to take back power.
It is expected to trigger Article 155 of the constitution, which allows it to impose direct rule in a crisis, taking back a region`s devolved powers, for the first time.
Other moves may include taking control of Catalonia`s regional police force.
However, Article 155 does not give the government the power to fully suspend autonomy.
The country has been in crisis since the vote was held on 1 October.
Of the 43% of Catalans who reportedly voted, 90% were in favour of independence.
Most anti-independence voters boycotted the ballot.
Mr Puigdemont and other regional leaders then signed a declaration of independence, but immediately suspended it in order to allow for talks.
However, Madrid responded by demanding to know whether or not Catalonia had declared independence, setting two deadlines for Mr Puigdemont to provide them with an answer.
Both have passed, and the Spanish government insists it must now intervene in order to uphold the rule of law.
However, this leaves Mr Rajoy in a delicate position, says the BBC`s Madrid correspondent Tom Burridge.
Any move, like taking control over Catalonia`s regional police force, action against Catalonia`s public TV channel or replacing Catalan officials with people loyal to Madrid has the potential to backfire, he says.
Among the measures being put in place are regional elections, according to Spain`s socialist party (PSOE).
PSOE politician Carmen Calvo announced the agreement to hold regional elections in an interview on national television on Friday.
It has not been confirmed by Mr Rajoy`s conservative Popular Party (PP).
She appealed to Mr Puigdemont to endorse the elections.
Catalonia`s government would be dissolved ahead of such a vote.
Crown Resorts Ltd.
, controlled by billionaire James Packer, has used an open letter to label allegations made by an Australian lawmaker that it skirted anti-money laundering rules and tampered with slot machines as unfair and unfounded.
“I am angered and disappointed by the outrageous allegations that have been leveled at us by Andrew Wilkie,” Crown Executive Chairman John Alexander said in the letter.
“If he believes he has evidence of wrongdoing, he should stop the political games, step out of the parliament and make his claims without privilege.
” Crown, which is emerging from a legal scandal in China that prompted a retreat from its international operations, now faces regulatory and police probes at home after Wilkie on Wednesday tabled the allegations, made by three whistleblowers who identified themselves as former staff of the company’s Melbourne casino.
The identities of the three men were heavily disguised through image pixelation and voice altering.
Read more: Crown Pressure Intensifies as Tampering Claims Investigated The whistleblowers said some Crown slot machines, commonly referred to as poker machines in Australia, were adjusted to allow buttons to remain pressed down to continuously generate bets at its Melbourne casino, against Victorian state laws.
Some buttons were disabled to reduce the choice of consumers as to how much they bet, prompting the state’s casino regulator to order fixes, they said.
They also alleged they were instructed to use different player ID cards when processing transactions above A$10,000 ($7,817) to avoid money-laundering oversight.
The nation’s financial crimes agency Austrac and the Victorian gambling regulator have said they are investigating the claims, while Australian Federal Police is evaluating allegations and material referred to it by Wilkie.
“Crown operates in a strictly regulated environment, with multiple government agencies and state law enforcement bodies supervising our operations,” Alexander said in the letter.
“We have a sophisticated anti-money-laundering program and we take compliance with Austrac requirements very seriously.
” The allegations are the latest setback for Melbourne-based Crown, which is now relying on domestic revenue to boost earnings.
Its overseas strategy fell apart in the wake of a crackdown on its Chinese operations that saw some staff convicted in China in June of illegally promoting gambling.
Packer, 50, returned to the company’s board this year and closed most of its Asian offices to focus on profitable casinos in Australia.
Packer said in an interview published in the Weekend Australian on Saturday that he had “little choice” but to withdraw from Macau after the arrests in China and felt “let down” over the scandal.
“Crown’s experience in China has been very profitable but ended in a very embarrassing way,” Packer said, according to the newspaper.
Requests for comment to Wilkie’s spokesman on Saturday weren’t immediately responded to.
Police in Brazil say they have arrested 108 people in the biggest operation ever against paedophiles in Latin America.
Suspects were arrested in 24 states and the capital, Brasilia.
Justice Minister Torquato Jardim said those detained were part of a ring that shared pornographic images of children through computers and mobile phones.
The operation comes at the end of a six-month investigation, which involved US and European immigration officials.
Investigators have found more than 150,000 files containing disturbing images.
They were accessed through the dark web, a part of the internet not reached my most search engines.
Among those arrested were retired policemen, civil servants and people in charge of football youth clubs.
Mr Jardim said the paedophiles use sophisticated techniques to evade police investigations.
"They store their illegal, criminal photos in a computer of someone in another part of the country or even abroad," he said.
"And often the people storing the content are unaware," added Mr Jardim.
The operation initially targeted suspects of sharing illegal paedophile material.
But after seizing dozens of computers, mobile phones, CDs and hard drives, investigators found out that the criminal group was also producing pornographic material to distribute on the internet.
The files contained disturbing images of babies and young children being abused.
Some of the children and teenagers denounced their own parents or other relatives to officers taking part in the operation.
It is not clear if the paedophile ring operated independently in Brazil or if it was connected with other criminal networks abroad.