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November 8, 2018

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema now has a narrow lead over Republican Martha McSally in the Arizona Senate race.

The Arizona secretary of state posted the latest numbers on Thursday evening, and Sinema now has 932,870 votes statewide to McSally's 923,260 votes. The winner will take over the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who decided not to run for re-election.

Officials say there are still 345,000 votes in Maricopa County that need to be counted, plus a smaller number in other counties, including about 195,000 early, provisional, and out-of-precinct ballots that were dropped off on Election Day, ABC 15 Arizona reports. Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said it will take several days to get all the ballots counted, and officials will provide updates daily at 5 p.m. Catherine Garcia

1:14a.m.

A Houston neighborhood is now home to 12 special murals that merge art with poetry.

The Gulfton neighborhood is one of the most diverse areas in Texas, with residents coming from more than 40 different countries and able to speak 80 languages, the Houston Chronicle reports. Many are immigrants, and Dr. Aisha Siddiqui created a nonprofit called Culture of Health — Advancing Together (CHAT) for those in need of a strong support system. "This land of opportunity is great but daunting for people," she said.

Art is "a universal language," Siddiqui said, and "helps make people take ownership of communities." To bring art to Gulfton, CHAT partnered with several other nonprofits and the mayor's office to launch the Gulfton Story Trail Mural Project. Community members were invited to write poems about the neighborhood, and Houston-area artists then selected their favorites and painted murals based on the poetry.

The colorful murals "make it more welcoming," Siddiqui said, and give people "the sense that someone cares for them." Artist Natalia Victoria painted a garden based on the poem "Ego For Thought" by local resident Emmanuel Nwaobi. "The poem was about the community working together to be a better community," Victoria told the Chronicle. "I thought that was inspiring and so important." Catherine Garcia

12:45a.m.

"Here we are once again: Trump wants to fire somebody," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "But in a refreshing change of pace, it's not Donald, because today we found out that in a stunning move, first lady Melania Trump is calling for the firing of Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel. I assume Melania's doing it with her traditional goodbye gift, a jacket that says 'U Don't Really Work Here Anymore, Do U?'"

The first lady's office apparently believes Ricardel has been leaking negative stories about her, but "this story has unearthed some juicy behind-the scenes details about the first lady's relationship with Chief of Staff John Kelly," including getting President Trump to yell at Kelly for not approving her promotion of staff members.

His wife's veering into Trump's "you're fired!" lane and Democrat Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema's historic win in Arizona are "just the latest in a very bad week for the president — case in point, North Korea," Colbert said. Trump has been saying for months that he solved North Korea's nuclear crisis, "but somebody didn't get the memo that North Korea wasn't a threat anymore, and that somebody was Kim Jong Un," who is moving ahead with his ballistic missiles program at 16 hidden bases.

Trump responded to that and other embarrassing news with an active day on Twitter, and Colbert read and commented on the tweets — disputing Kim's missiles, defending his widely mocked decision to skip a World War I memorial in France due to rain, and several attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron, one of which included a threat to raise tariffs on French wines. "Aren't you losing support with suburban white women?" Colbert asked. "Maybe now's not the time to come after wine. What's next? Banning book clubs and Nancy Meyers movies?" Watch below. Peter Weber

November 13, 2018

Conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi told The Guardian on Tuesday that during a recent interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, he was asked about Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party and a prominent Brexit campaigner.

Corsi is one of GOP strategist Roger Stone's associates, and on Monday, he announced he expects to be indicted by Mueller soon. Corsi said Mueller's investigators asked him about any advance knowledge he may have had regarding WikiLeaks releasing emails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and Corsi said the questions about Farage were related to U.S. politics "but of course Brexit was in the background." Farage, who campaigned with Trump, has denied having any involvement with Russia ahead of the Brexit vote.

Corsi said he was also asked about Ted Malloch, an American academic based in London, who has ties to Farage and was an informal adviser to Trump. Earlier this year, FBI agents interviewed Malloch; at the time, he told The Guardian he was asked about his relationship with Stone and if he ever visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. While he was willing to share with The Guardian that he was asked about Farage and Malloch, Corsi refused to go into "detail because I respect the special counsel and the legal process." Catherine Garcia

November 13, 2018

On Tuesday, President Trump hosted a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights and one of the religion's most popular annual festivals, at the White House. Diwali was actually a week earlier, Nov. 7, and in his tweet marking his belated celebration of the festival, Trump — or more likely, one of his staffers — explained that Diwali is "a holiday observed by Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains throughout the United States & around the world."

Diwali is not widely celebrated among Buddhists, and people noticed that he left out the Hindus.

Trump — who proclaimed during the 2016 election that "we love the Hindus!" — followed up with a tweet expressing his "great honor" at hosting a "celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights," calling the attendees of his celebration "very, very special people!"

Last year, Trump hosted an intimate Diwali celebration in the Oval Office, organized by major GOP fundraiser Shalabh "Shalli" Kumar, India Abroad reports. And that this year's Diwali celebration almost did not happen because the White House was busy with the midterm elections and, as one senior administration official told the publication, with "everything else that’s going on, organizing a Diwali event this year has not been something we've been thinking about." There has been a White House Diwali celebration every year since 2003. Peter Weber

November 13, 2018

Democrat Josh Harder has defeated Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in California's 10th Congressional District, The Associated Press reports.

With the latest vote count released on Tuesday, Harder has a 4,919-vote lead over Denham, the four-term incumbent, and because there aren't many ballots left to count, there's no way he can overcome the deficit.

A first time candidate, Harder, 32, was born and raised in the 10th District, which sits in California's Central Valley. While campaigning, the venture capitalist said he will push for universal health care, and repeatedly brought up Denham's vote against the Affordable Care Act. Denham, 51, painted Harder as someone with an "extreme" agenda who doesn't understand the area.

This is the fourth Democratic pickup of a Republican House seat in California. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the district, but Denham was able to win his race by 3 percentage points. Catherine Garcia

November 13, 2018

After holding the lead for a week, Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) is now trailing her Democratic challenger in Southern California's 45th Congressional District by 261 votes.

Orange County released its latest ballot count on Tuesday evening. Walters was ahead of Democratic law professor Katie Porter by 3 percent on Election Day last Tuesday, but by Monday, her lead had dropped to 1,000. The Los Angeles Times says that typically in California, the last ballots counted are provisional or mailed late, and those usually favor Democrats.

In races that have been called, Democrats won three of 14 seats held by Republicans in California. Catherine Garcia

November 13, 2018

If Jennifer Senior could go back to the summer of 2017, she would have written a very different review of the book Conscience of a Conservative.

Senior, now a New York Times opinion columnist, was a book critic when Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) released his tome. In the Times on Tuesday, Senior writes that she gave the book a "mostly kind review," but now, she's "seriously reconsidering" it. Flake has "always been a class act," Senior said, and she applauded him for being the first Republican senator to "call President Trump the domestic and international menace that he is." But while Flake loudly asserted that he was standing up to Trump, he still went along and voted with the president 84 percent of the time. "Jeff Flake's book couldn't even convince Jeff Flake," Senior said.

Flake may have said he really, truly believed Trump posed a threat to democracy, but his voting record paints a different picture. Flake had ample opportunities to "align himself with the opposition," like the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he said he had misgivings about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, yet still voted to confirm him. Trump is now the face of the Republican Party, Senior said, which is "heavy with nativists, populists, protectionists, assorted supremacists." Flake has urgently called for a return to the party's roots, but that has had "zero effect," and instead of his book being a critique of Trump, it "was a tragedy." Catherine Garcia

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