Start your week smart: Moscow in mourning, Kate’s cancer diagnosis, government funding, Nigerian schoolchildren, Ruby Franke

A ubiquitous, resilient and seemingly harmless plant is fueling an increase in large, fast-moving and destructive wildfires in the US. To find the culprit, look no further than your front lawn.

Here’s what else you need to know to Start Your Week Smart.

The weekend that was

• Flags are flying at half-staff as Russia observes a day of national mourning for the 133 people who died in the assault on a concert hall near Moscow. The attack was the deadliest inside Russia for more than two decades, and nearly a dozen people have been detained. Follow live updates.
• The Prince and Princess of Wales expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support they have received from the public after Catherine, Princess of Wales, announced she has cancer. The princess, known as Kate, described her diagnosis as a “huge shock.”
President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.2 trillion legislation that completes the funding of federal agencies through the fiscal year, which ends September 30. The House passed the package on Friday, and the Senate passed it early Saturday morning.
• Nearly 300 schoolchildren kidnapped in Nigeria earlier this month have been released, the governor of the country’s Kaduna state said. They were abducted by armed bandits on motorcycles who demanded a ransom and threatened to kill the children.
• Prosecutors say new video and documents show that “religious extremism” motivated popular parent blogger Ruby Franke’s abuse of children. She has pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse.

The week ahead

Former President Donald Trump faces a deadline to secure a nearly half-billion-dollar bond to appeal his civil fraud case in New York. Trump’s lawyers said last week that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was unable to secure a bond after he was turned down by 30 insurance companies. They told the appeals court the insurers wanted cash or stock as collateral worth about half a billion dollars and they would not take real estate as collateral. If Trump is unable to secure the cash — or unless the appeals court agrees to grant his motion to delay fronting the money until after the appeal is heard — New York Attorney General Letitia James may begin seizing some of his assets to finance his obligation to the state. Filings show New York officials are first preparing to try to seize Trump’s golf course and private estate north of Manhattan, known as Seven Springs.

Elsewhere in Trump’s legal troubles, a hearing is scheduled in his criminal hush money trial in Manhattan to address the production of tens of thousands of documents turned over this month by the Department of Justice, as well as Trump’s motions to dismiss the case and sanction District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office over what he says are repeated discovery violations. The trial itself had been slated to begin Monday, but the judge overseeing the trial agreed to delay its start. A new trial date is yet to be determined but is not likely before mid-April.

The Supreme Court will consider whether to restrict access to a widely used abortion drug, even in states where the procedure is still allowed. The case concerns the drug mifepristone, which — when coupled with another drug — is one of the most common abortion methods in the US. A federal judge in Texas issued a ruling that would have halted the FDA’s initial approval of the drug in 2000.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will announce his running mate in Oakland, California. In an interview with CNN earlier this month, Kennedy said he had “made up his mind” on his running mate, selected from a shortlist that included NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Other names on the list included former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, GOP Sen. Rand Paul and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a campaign spokesperson said.

Onetime crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried is scheduled to be sentenced for stealing billions of dollars from customers and defrauding investors in his now-bankrupt crypto exchange, FTX. Bankman-Fried, who turned 32 this month, was convicted in November of stealing more than $8 billion and engaging his employees in a yearslong coverup, in what has been called one of the largest financial frauds in history. Federal prosecutors are asking for a sentence of 40 to 50 years in prison. Lawyers for Bankman-Fried are urging the judge to consider a far shorter prison sentence of no more than 6.5 years.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been wrongfully detained in Russia for one year. He was arrested in 2023 while on a reporting trip in the country. The FSB, Russia’s main security service, accused Gershkovich of trying to obtain state secrets — a charge he, his employer and the US government have strenuously denied. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

It’s also Good Friday.

One Thing: Abortion back before the Supreme Court

In this week’s “One Thing” podcast, CNN’s Meg Tirrell previews Supreme Court oral arguments about access to a widely used abortion pill. Listen here.

Photos of the week

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Check out more images from the week that was, curated by CNN Photos.

What’s happening in entertainment

TV and streaming
“A Gentleman in Moscow” debuts on Paramount+ on Friday. The series stars Ewan McGregor as Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat who is placed under house arrest while the Bolshevik Revolution plays out before him. It also features McGregor’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as actress Anna Urbanova. And despite the two being married, McGregor said it was “still necessary” to have an intimacy coordinator for the sex scenes in the series. Learn why here.

In theaters
The two original titans of the big screen join forces Friday in “Godzilla x Kong: A New Empire” to battle a new threat. Expect much roaring and the destruction of many buildings. Please note from the trailer that Godzilla is now sporting glowing pink dorsal spines, eyes and atomic breath. Why? Maybe it’s for Easter … “Godzilla x King Kong” is from Warner Bros. Pictures, which, like CNN, is part of Warner Bros. Discovery.

What’s happening in sports

At a glance …
College basketball’s March Madness is in its full bracket-busting glory, with the second round of the men’s tournament wrapping up today and the women’s second round beginning. The men’s Sweet 16 starts Thursday, and the Elite Eight teams take to the courts next weekend. The women’s Sweet 16 gets underway Friday.

Thursday is Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. The New York Mets kick off the 2024 season at home facing the Milwaukee Brewers. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. ET.

For more of your favorite sports, head on over to CNN Sports as well as Bleacher Report, which — like CNN — is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.

Quiz time!

Looking for a challenge to start your week? Take CNN’s news quiz to see how much you remember from the week that was! So far, 64% of fellow quiz fans have gotten eight or more questions right. How will you fare?

Play me off …

Beyoncé’s highly anticipated country album — “Cowboy Carter” — is set to arrive Friday, and country music legend Dolly Parton says she thinks it will include a cover of one of her greatest hits. (Click here to view)

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