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March 24, 2016
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On Wednesday night, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill that prohibits transgender people in the state from using a restroom or locker room that doesn't match the gender on their birth certificate, bars local governments from passing their own anti-discrimination laws, and bans municipalities from raising the minimum wage above the state level. The Republican-controlled state legislature had called an emergency session on Tuesday to pass the bill, at a cost of $42,000, in order to quash an anti-discrimination ordinance set to take effect in Charlotte on April 1.

The hastily crafted law — which puts in place a statewide nondiscrimination measure that doesn't mention gay or transgender people — passed in the state House, 82-26, and unanimously in the Senate after every Democrat walked out in protest. "We choose not to participate in this farce," explained Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D). Republicans argued that the bill was necessary to ensure public safety and preserve the primacy of state law over local measures. "It's common sense — biological men should not me be in women's showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms," said Rep. Dean Arp (R) before the measure passed.

Similar measures prohibiting gender-identity bathroom use recently failed in Tennessee and in South Dakota, where the Republican governor vetoed it. "North Carolina has gone against the trend," said North Carolina ACLU head Sarah Preston. "And they crafted a bill that was more extreme than others. They specifically left gays, lesbians, and the transgender community out of the anti-discrimination policy. They want to make it plain that they think that kind of discrimination is okay."

The three hours of General Assembly debate on Wednesday included public testimony. People supporting the bill focused on the idea that predatory males could go into female bathrooms and sexually abuse people. Those opposed to the measure called that idea nonsense and argued that it can be dangerous and awkward for a transgender person to use a bathroom for his or her birth gender. "I can't use the men's room," said Madeleine Gause, a transgender woman who said she was bullied as a boy in Hickory. "It is unsafe for me.... And it freaks people out when I go to the men's room. Would you want to go to the men's room with me?" Besides, when transgender people go into a restroom, "people aren't getting raped and murdered," she added. "They are just going to the bathroom." Peter Weber

5:42 a.m. ET
JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, Pope Francis visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp where more than one million people died during the Holocaust. During his visit, Francis met with elderly survivors of the camp and placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed. He spent much of his time sitting in silence beneath a tree to reflect on the tragedy and to pray. He is the third pope to visit the camp, after both his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

According to The Associated Press, Francis wrote in a guest book at Auschwitz: "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."

The visit comes on the third day of his five-day trip through Poland. Earlier this week, Francis warned that "the world is at war" after French jihadists murdered a Catholic priest on Tuesday. "When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion," Pope Francis said. "All religions want peace, it's the others who want war." Jessica Hullinger

2:06 a.m. ET
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The Nusra Front, a branch of al Qaeda in Syria, announced Thursday it is leaving the group.

Nusra Front's leader, Mohamad al-Golani, said they will reorganize under a new name, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, "with no ties with any foreign party." He said the move is being made "to remove the excuse used by the international community — spearheaded by America and Russia — to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: That they are targeting the Nusra Front, which is associated with al Qaeda."

Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's successor as the leader of al Qaeda, gave the Nusra Front permission to break away, Reuters reports. When asked about the news, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said, "We're gonna have to wait and see. We judge a group by what they do, not by what they call themselves." Catherine Garcia

1:39 a.m. ET

In 2008, when Barack Obama became the first African-American presidential nominee, his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), released an ad congratulating him on making history.

"Sen. Obama, this is truly a good day for America," McCain said. "Too often, the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed, so I wanted to stop and say congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow we'll be back at it, but tonight, Senator, job well done."

On Thursday, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman to ever become the presidential nominee of a major party, that didn't happen — but this did. Catherine Garcia

12:59 a.m. ET

So many balloons fell from the ceiling at the end of her speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night that Hillary Clinton seemingly didn't know what to do with them all.

She pointed at some:

Grabbed others:

Stared in awe at a few:

Looked at some like they were Donald Trump:

Walked gingerly through a sea of many:

And finally just disappeared for awhile:

Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton was playing it cool.

Catherine Garcia

12:28 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump seemed to hardly know where to begin after Hillary Clinton's Democratic National Convention speech Thursday night. So, as the Republican presidential nominee's Twitter feed shows, he just chucked every single criticism he could think of at her, in no particular order. Behold, the result:

Bad "judgement" indeed. Becca Stanek

12:18 a.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton went deep into the archives, quoting another former first lady to try to prove her point that Donald Trump doesn't have the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief.

"I can't put it any better than Jackie Kennedy did after the Cuban Missile Crisis," Clinton said. "She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started — not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men — the ones moved by fear and pride." Clinton quoted Kennedy on what would have been her 87th birthday. Catherine Garcia

July 28, 2016
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama thought Hillary Clinton nailed it. Shortly after Clinton wrapped up her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, Obama fired off this tweet lauding Clinton's leadership qualities and predicting the future of his current Twitter handle, @POTUS:

First Lady Michelle Obama followed up with some praise of her own, too:

The only question is, would former President Bill Clinton inherit @FLOTUS? Becca Stanek

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