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October 11, 2018

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is both the state's top election official and the Republican nominee for governor, and his aggressive "voter roll maintenance" has become an issue in his race against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Abrams, who is black, says Kemp is suppressing minority votes. Kemp has canceled more than 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012, including about 670,000 in 2017 alone, The Associated Press reports, and his office is sitting on more than 53,000 voter registration forms that ran afoul of the "exact match" system he put in place.

The "exact match" system, codified by the state's Republican legislature last year, sidelines a voter application if it doesn't exactly match the information on an applicant's driver's license or Social Security data. "If even an accent or a hyphen is missing from a name, the application gets blocked," reports Cameron Joseph at Talking Points Memo. Voters don't always know that their registration is blocked, AP says, and an analysis of records obtained through a public records request "reveals racial disparity in the process. Georgia's population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations on hold with Kemp's office is nearly 70 percent black."

Kemp says he is fighting voter fraud and has made voting easier for all Georgians, pointing to an online registration system and expanded mail-in voting. He blames the "exact match" racial disparity on the voter-registration organization Abrams founded in 2014.

On MSNBC Wednesday night, Rachel Maddow noted that 53,000 votes could decide a neck-and-neck race like the Abrams-Kemp one. "Honestly, this is outrageous enough that it seems almost impossible that the courts will allow this to stand," she said.

Kemp and Abrams have been sparring for years over voting rights, and you can read more about their history — and the 214 polling places shuttered with Kemp's encouragement, disproportionately in rural and blacker counties, since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 — at Talking Points Memo. Peter Weber

4:25 a.m.

Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe explained on 60 Minutes Sunday night why he opened a counterintelligence operation into President Trump and Russia, and on Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert suggested an answer to McCabe's question about why Trump was acting so strange about Russia when he fired FBI Director James Comey: "Because he's guilty?"

McCabe said Trump gave him lots of reasons to suspect nefarious ties to Russia, including one exchange where the president reportedly told U.S. intelligence analysts he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin over them. Colbert added on to McCabe's quote from Trump: "I don't care what our intelligence agencies say, I believe Putin ... has the director's cut of the pee-pee tape."

McCable also discussed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's casual suggestion about invoking the 25th Amendment, irking some Republicans, Colbert said, poking fun at Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) vow to investigate whether the Justice Department and FBI plotted to remove Trump from office: "Yes, Graham says we need a federal investigation into the FBI. You know what that means: It's time to call the Federal Bureau of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Investigators. Learn all about it in the new hit CBS midseason replacement series The FBFBII." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:24 a.m.

Roman Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy, but infamously, not all priests keep that vow. And whether it's through a consensual affair or rape, priests sometimes father children. "Now, the Vatican has confirmed, apparently for the first time, that its department overseeing the world's priests has general guidelines for what to do when clerics break celibacy vows and father children," The New York Times reports.

"I can confirm that these guidelines exist," Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told the Times. "It is an internal document," created in 2017 based on a decade's worth of procedures, he added, and its "fundamental principle" is the "protection of the child." Gisotti said the document "requests" that the father leave the priesthood to "assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively to the child." Canon lawyers tell the Times there's nothing in church law requiring a priest who fathers a child to step down. Msgr. Andrea Ripa, under secretary in the Congregation for the Clergy, told the Times that while "it is impossible" to do more than ask such priests to resign, "if you don't ask, you will be dismissed."

There are more than 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide but no reliable estimate for the number of children of priests, though the website for one support group, Coping International, has 50,000 registered users in 175 countries, according to the group's founder, Vincent Doyle. Doyle, an Irish psychotherapist who was 28 when he learned the priest he believed to be his godfather was actually his biological father, will meet with senior prelates in Rome this week when the world's bishops gather to discuss the Catholic child sex abuse scandal. He doesn't think all priests who father children should be laicized or fired.

Still, the "children of the ordained," as the church apparently calls them, are "the next scandal," Doyle told the Times. "There are kids everywhere." Read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber

1:56 a.m.

It's been a soggy February in California.

Since the first of the month, storms have dumped 18 trillion gallons of water in the state, the National Weather Service said. That's the equivalent of 27 million Olympic-sized pools, or 45 percent the total volume of Lake Tahoe. "If you weighed all the water, it would come out to 150 trillion pounds of water," KGO-TV meteorologist Mike Nicco said. "That's a lot of weight."

The snowpack in the Sierras is at 141 percent of its seasonal average and above its April 1 benchmark, the Los Angeles Times reports, and that will provide water for farmers once it begins to melt. All of this rain hasn't been enough to get California out of its drought, though; the United States Drought Monitor reports that a large portion of Southern California is still considered abnormally dry, and there are some small areas in the extreme north and south of the state experiencing moderate to severe drought. Catherine Garcia

1:52 a.m.

President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border on Friday, and after "a strange and incoherent appearance" in the Rose Garden, it was clear "the true emergency was taking place in his skull," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. He ran through some of the random topics Trump discussed, adding: "I only made a couple of those up, and you don't know which ones." Still, all Trump had to do was say he had no choice but to build his wall by executive fiat, and he even failed at that.

There are already several lawsuits challenging the declaration, but Trump "has a plan, and it goes a little something like this," Colbert said. "A little singsong, don't you think?" he asked after playing the clip. "I can't tell if he was answering a question or reading his Torah portion." "He's nailing that B-flat," Jon Batiste threw in from the piano, and Colbert spun a fantasy about Trump's presidency ending, in B-flat.

At The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was also surprised "Trump admitted he didn't need to declare an emergency, he's just doing it to save time," and he also found it amusing that Trump "wrote a song about" the legal challenges. "It sounds like he's being autotuned," or perhaps "trying to play his own speech on 'Guitar Hero,'" Noah said, inspired by "Cardi D's jam": "What if, the whole time, the key to making Trump a smarter president is just to teach him in song form?" He tried that out with sectarian violence in Yemen.

Late Night's Seth Meyers thought Trump's "singsong ramble" was more "like a 5-year-old telling you what he saw at the zoo," but he agreed that Trump saying he "didn't need to do this" declaration shows it's "the exact opposite of an emergency." That wasn't the only clue, as Trump flew straight from the Rose Garden to Mar-a-Lago for a weekend of golf and ... brunch? "There's no clearer sign that this is not a real emergency than the fact that he is at an omelette bar," Meyers said. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:27 a.m.

Kazi Mannan remembers what it was like when he arrived in the United States 23 years ago, with $5 to his name.

An immigrant from Pakistan, Mannan told WJLA that in those early days, he never had enough money to eat inside a restaurant. Years later, when he opened his own restaurant, Sakina Halal Grill, in Washington, D.C., he decided that everyone would be able to eat his delicious Pakistani and Indian food, whether or not they could pay.

Since opening in 2013, Mannan has made it his mission to feed people who are hungry and homeless. Some come in and eat twice a day at the restaurant, and the staff has their orders memorized. Mannan estimates that in 2018, the restaurant served at least 16,000 free meals. "I don't want any donation, but if you're coming in to eat, that's your support of helping a community restaurant that is offering kindness and love others," he told WJLA. "I'm trying to worship our Creator through food." Catherine Garcia

12:18 a.m.

Maybe they meant to type "(Crickets)"?

The White House has posted online the remarks made by Vice President Mike Pence last Friday at the Munich Security Conference, but there's a glaring error. In the beginning of his address, Pence said it was his "great honor" to speak "on behalf of a champion of freedom and a champion of a strong national defense, the 45th president of the United States, President Donald Trump." In the transcript, it says this was followed by "(Applause)." In reality, it was followed by (Silence).

As video from the event shows, Pence expected to be met with some sort of a reaction, as he paused, awkwardly, before moving on. The White House hasn't said why it inserted this fabrication, or why they didn't go with something more exciting, like (Audience starts chanting, "USA! USA! USA!" while twirling star-spangled rally towels) or (German Chancellor Angela Merkel dons a MAGA cap, initiates The Wave). Catherine Garcia

February 18, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said Monday night that a 45-year-old Mexican national had died in Border Patrol custody earlier in the day, after being apprehended by police in Roma, Texas, on Feb. 2. The cause of death remains unknown, CBP spokesman Andrew Meehan said, and the man's name is being withheld. The Department of Homeland Security instituted new health protocols and guidelines for reporting the deaths of immigrants in its custody after two children from Guatemala, ages 8 and 7, died in Border Patrol custody in New Mexico in December.

The immigrant requested medical attention after being arrested for crossing illegally into the U.S., "was cleared" by officials at the Mission Regional Medical Center, then handed over to Border Patrol, CBP said. The next day, he requested medical attention again and was taken to the McAllen Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure, CBP said. He died in the hospital Monday morning. Peter Weber

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