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February 11, 2019

In June 2008, Debbie Vasquez and other sexual abuse survivors traveled to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual gathering and pleaded with the convention to track sexual predators who worked at the SBC's 47,000 affiliated churches, sanctioning those that harbored or hid predatory abusers. Vasquez — who says her Southern Baptist pastor sexually molested her starting at 14, and her church urged her to get an abortion when he impregnated her at 18 — pleaded with SBC leaders to enact abuse-prevention policies like the U.S. Catholic Church had done years earlier, according to a recording she shared with the Houston Chronicle.

SBC leaders declined to act, the Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday, so the newspapers compiled their own list. They found that since that 2008 meeting, more than 250 people who worked or volunteered in Southern Baptist churches nationwide — pastors, youth ministers, deacons, Sunday school teachers — have been charged with sex crimes. And since 1998, at least 380 SBC leaders or volunteers have been charged or credibly accused of abuse, leaving behind more than 700 victims. About 220 offenders were convicted of sex-related crimes or took plea deals. Some of these convicted and registered sex offenders still preach at Southern Baptist churches, including one who also heads a Houston nonprofit that works with schoolchildren, Touching the Future Today Inc.

Southern Baptist leaders knew there was a sexual abuse problem, they tell the Chronicle, but they were powerless to act because of the core autonomy and independence accorded each Southern Baptist church. Some leaders are implicated in abuse or cover-ups themselves. "The SBC has ended its affiliation with four churches in the past 10 years for affirming or endorsing homosexual behavior," the Chronicle notes. "The SBC governing documents ban gay or female pastors. They do not outlaw convicted sex offenders from working in churches." The inaction beyond prayers "is the greatest tragedy of all," David Pittman, whose abuser still works as a youth minister despite his warnings, told the Chronicle. "So many people's faith is murdered. I mean, their faith is slaughtered by these predators." Read more at the Houston Chronicle. 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

February 18, 2019

Roger Stone may have been ordered to keep quiet by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., but he's not staying silent on Instagram, posting a picture on Monday of the judge next to a crosshairs symbol.

Stone, a longtime Republican operative and adviser to President Trump, wrote in the caption that Special Counsel Robert Mueller used "legal trickery" to ensure that his criminal trial for lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction went before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Stone, who has been hustling to raise money online to cover his legal bills, tagged his defense fund, and added the hashtag #fixisin.

When contacted by BuzzFeed News, Stone said he posted a "random photo taken from the internet," and "any inference that this was meant to somehow threaten the judge or disrespect court is categorically false." He later deleted the image and filed a notice of apology with the court, saying the photograph and comment were "improper" and he "recognizes the impropriety and had it removed." Catherine Garcia

February 18, 2019

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave the Department of Justice in mid-March, a department official told Reuters on Monday.

It was anticipated that he would step down after a new attorney general was chosen; last week, William Barr was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as attorney general. In May 2017, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Catherine Garcia

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