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Pope Francis jokes with cloistered nuns in Peru

Pope Francis drew appreciative laughter Sunday when he addressed cloistered nuns in a Peruvian church, Reuters reported. The nuns were given special permission to leave their convents to see the pontiff speak in Lima.

>> Read more trending news

Francis spoke to the 500 nuns, known as “contemplatives” because they rarely venture away from their convents, on his final day in Peru.

“Seeing you all here an unkind thought comes to my mind, that you took advantage (of me) to get out of the convent a bit to take a stroll,” he said at the Cathedral San Juan Apostol y Evangelista in Lima, drawing roars of laughter from the nuns, Reuters reported.

Francis also urged the nuns to avoid gossiping in their convents, likening it to “terrorism.”

“You know what a gossiping nun is?” he asked. “A terrorist.”

The nuns laughed again, Reuters reported.

“Because gossip is like a bomb. One throws it, it causes destruction and you walk away tranquilly.” Francis said. “No terrorist nuns! No gossip, and know that the best remedy against gossip is to bite your tongue.”

Shirtless flag-bearer from 2016 Olympics qualifies for 2018 Games

The flag-bearer from Tonga who walked shirtless in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics will need to pack some warm shirts for the South Korean games.

>> Read more trending news

Saying that “a miracle happened,” Pita Taufatofua qualified for the Pyeongchang Olympics in cross-country skiing Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Taufatofua had failed in two previous attempts to qualify for the Winter Olympics, but on Saturday, he met the standards in five races to qualify, ESPN reported.

“I gave it absolutely everything,” he told the Journal. “I died at the end.”

Taufatofua qualified in taekwondo at the Rio de Janeiro Games, ESPN reported. He was eliminated in his first bout.

Jim Johannson, GM of USA Hockey, dead at 53

Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director of USA Hockey and general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, died in his sleep Sunday morning, USA Hockey said in a statement. He was 53.

>> Read more trending news

USA Hockey said Johannson died at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said in the statement. “As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet. His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

Johannson’s death comes a few weeks before the United States competes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The Games begin Feb. 9.

Johannson has been with USA Hockey since 2000. This season was going to be a challenge for the American team, as it would be competing without NHL players for the first time since 1994.

Johannson played college hockey at Wisconsin from 1982 to 1986 and led the Badgers to an NCAA title as a freshman. He played for the U.S. men’s hockey team in the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics.

This year’s U.S. hockey squad is coached by Tony Granato, who was Johannson’s teammate on the 1988 squad.

McConnell rejects Trump's suggestion to use 'nuclear option' to break budget impasse

On day two of the U.S. government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would not adopt President Donald Trump’s call for a “nuclear option” to pass a budget with a simple majority, The New York Daily News reported Sunday.

>> Read more trending news

“The Republican Conference opposes changing the rules on legislation,” a spokesman for McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement to the Daily News.

The Senate is set to reconvene at 1 p.m. Sunday.

In a tweet Sunday morning Trump had called for the Senate to change the rules on filibusters, which requires a 60 votes to advance a bill. Trump’s “nuclear option” calls for a simple majority of 51 votes.

“Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.'s!” Trump tweeted.

The government officially shut down just after midnight Saturday when the Senate could not muster enough votes to advance a new spending bill. 

Republicans have branded the deadlock the “Schumer Shutdown,” blaming the impasse on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Democrats. meanwhile, have called it the “Trump Shutdown.”

Firemen: Child igniting paper on space heater starts fire at Orlando apartment complex

At least 48 people were displaced after a fire at a Florida apartment complex Saturday morning, the Orlando Fire Department said. 

>> Read more trending news

Firefighters said no one was injured in the fire that broke out at the Windsor Cove apartments in Orlando around 10 a.m.

Fire investigators said a child igniting paper on a space heater caused the blaze.

The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents. 

"It's pretty significant. It was 25 kids, which is the most amount of kids that I've had to deal with on any of the calls that I've gone out on," said Leo Alvarez, a Red Cross volunteer. 

About 10 total apartment units were affected by the blaze. 

Power was shut off to the entire building, approximately 12 units, due to extensive damage to the electrical system, firefighters said. 

Filing taxes? Here's how a government shutdown impacts the process

Millions of Americans are ready to file their 1040s when the tax season opens Jan. 29 , but will the Internal Revenue service be open to process them? And how long will it take to get a refund?

>> Read more trending news

When Congress failed to agree on a funding bill early Saturday, the U.S. government officially ran out of money for the fiscal year and shut down, triggering furloughs for “non-essential” employees.

That could impact the more than 155 million individual tax returns that the IRS is expected to receive in 2018.

The IRS will keep about 43.5 percent of its employees -- 35,076 -- on the job, CNN reported. According to Forbes magazine, the IRS has a contingency plan to operate during a government shutdown.

>> Government shutdown: What will close

The plan says that “If the IRS is confronted by a lapse in appropriations during the 2018 Tax Filing Season, the IRS will need to continue return processing activities to the extent necessary to protect Government property, which includes tax revenue, and maintain the integrity of the federal tax collection process, along with certain other activities authorized under the Anti-Deficiency Act.”

Fine, fine. But what about those refunds?

Here’s what will -- and won’t -- happen:

  • There will be no refunds issued

  • There will be no audits or examinations, although there may be some exceptions

  • There will be no processing of non-disaster relief transcripts

  • Forms such as 1040X or amended returns will not be processed

  • There will be no non-automated collections

According to Forbes, here are some functions that will continue:

  • E-filing

  • Mailing of tax forms

  • Call centers, which will remain open during filing season (more than 10,000 customers service representatives will handle telephone calls)

  • Processing returns that include payments

  • Appeals

  • Civil and criminal tax cases

  • Active criminal investigations

  • The IRS website, IRS.gov;

  • More than 3,000 IT-related workers will remain on the job

This is a contingency plan, of course. The last time the government shut down in 2013, everything closed, including customer service and call centers, Forbes reported.

And what about the Republican tax cut bill that President Donald Trump signed into law last month? Tax experts said that a lengthy shutdown could complicate the challenge the IRS faces in implementing the new guidelines, The Washington Post reported.

Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

A new ad released by President Donald Trump's campaign is claiming that Democrats are “complicit” in killings by undocumented immigrants. The ad was released after Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to keep the government from shutting down.

>> Click here to watch

“President Trump is right — build the wall, deport criminals, stop illegal immigration now,” the ad said, showing clips of top Democrats. “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

>> Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

“President Trump will fix our border and keep our families safe,” the ad concluded. The ad was released on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

>> Government shutdown: What closes; will you get your Social Security check; what happens to SNAP, WIC

On Friday, Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to fund the government and keep it from shutting down after Republicans refused to include a provision to protect thousands of immigrants brought here as children.

>> Read more trending news 

President Trump bashed Democrats after the failed vote, saying that they wanted “unchecked illegal immigration.”

“Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!” he tweeted Saturday morning.

Earlier on Saturday, he again bashed Democratstweeting that they were more “concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border.”

(H/t: The Hill)

Michael Phelps reveals he considered suicide after 2012 Olympics

Swimmer Michael Phelps has revealed that after the 2012 Olympics, he considered suicide.

>> Michael Phelps and wife Nicole expecting second child

“Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” he told David Axelrod at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, an organization for mental health advocacy, according to CNN. Phelps revealed that after winning four gold medals and two silver medals at the 2012 Olympics, the depression got worse, and he couldn’t leave his room for days.

“I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore … I didn’t want to be alive anymore,” he said.

Eventually, Phelps decided he needed to seek help.

>> Read more trending news 

“I remember going to treatment my very first day. I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was coming up,” Phelps said. “I needed to figure out what was going on.”

After getting his life back on track, Phelps started the Michael Phelps Foundation, which works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He also has been open about his struggles with mental health and depression.

>> WATCH: Michael Phelps races great white shark ... sort of

“I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it, and I think this is the only way that it can change,” he said. “That’s the reason why suicide rates are going up; people are afraid to talk and open up.”

Phelps said that now, he is thankful to be alive. He is now married to his longtime love, Nicole Johnson, and has a son, Boomer, with another on the way, due later this year.

“I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life,” he said.

Deployed troops will be able to watch NFL playoff games

UPDATE, 10:03 a.m. 1/21/2018: Despite the shutdown of the United States government early Saturday, the NFL announced Sunday morning that the Armed Forces Network will  air the AFC and NFC Championship games.

>> Read more trending news 

The NFL also said it is providing free access to the games via NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

Meanwhile, Congress is back at work Sunday, attempting to create a deal to end the shutdown. 

ORIGINAL STORY: As a result of lawmakers failing to resolve a standoff over immigration and spending, the United States government has been shut down indefinitely – meaning everyone has been affected, including troops overseas.

>> Watch the news report here

There is a lot of fallout from the shutdown. From government employees who aren't being paid, including the Defense Department, to the Armed Forces Network being taken off the air, the effects of a standstill government can be felt across the board.

Since the AFN has been taken off the air, that means many of our troops overseas won't be able to watch the NFL playoffs Sunday

Surely it's not the biggest issue surrounding a government shutdown, but it's a big morale issue. 

>> Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Watching the Patriots on the Armed Forces Network has been a comforting piece of home for army Sgt. Matt Connolly, who's serving in South Korea.

"It's kind of the only thing we can do for fun over here," Connolly told WFXT.

For the first time since he's been stationed in Korea, his family came to visit him for the AFC Championship game.

"I'm actually on leave right now. My family from Boston is here right now and we were looking forward to watching the game," Connolly said.

With no one to run it, AFN is off the air. 

>> John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist

The NFL says it is providing free access to Sunday's Championships via the NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

"No matter what, I'm going to watch them," Connolly said.

Sen. Ed Markey says he's in a holding pattern right now as he says he and most of his colleagues are preparing to negotiate through the night – but it's still unclear if that will be an option.

Immigration issues are at the center of the shutdown. Many Republicans don't want to negotiate on those issues until a spending bill is passed and the government re-opens.

However, those immigration issues – including the DREAMERS Act – are a priority for many Democrats. 

Markey told WFXT that he believes everyone needs to continue working to find some sort of compromise, and he wants President Donald Trump to take the lead.

"Bill Belichick is telling the New England Patriots for tomorrow, 'Do your job,' and we are saying to President Trump for tomorrow, 'Do your job, Mr. President. Make sure that the funding is there for our troops. Make sure that our defense is taken care of, but make sure that we also protect child health and the Dreamers,' but thus far he's been unwilling to do his job," Markey said.

Read more here.

John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist

Grammy and Oscar-winning singer John Legend is claiming that President Donald Trump and his team’s alleged racism are behind the government shutdown.

>> Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Legend, who has vocally criticized Trump Sr. and Jr. both in the past, tweeted the following just after midnight Saturday:

“The reason the government shutdown is that Trump and his team have an ideological commitment to allowing fewer black and brown people into the country #TrumpShutdown #TrumpIsARacist,” Legend tweeted.

>> Shutdown nixes Trump visit to Mar-a-Lago; party goes on with son Eric headlining

Legend has called Trump a racist before.

Most recently, Legend tweeted on Jan. 11 that Trump is “a racist” and “has been for his entire public life.”

That came in response to vulgar remarks Trump allegedly made about immigrants from African countries.

In April, Legend said he thinks that Trump is a “terrible president.”

“He’s manifestly unqualified, not curious, not good at legislating or doing anything that his job requires. He doesn’t have any depth about any subject,” he said. “And he’s also using the office of the presidency as a way to make money for himself with his businesses, so he’s corrupt.”

“I can’t say anything nice about the guy. I think he’s one of the worst people I’ve encountered in public life,” he added.

As early as December 2016 in an interview with Rolling Stone, Legend made the same accusation.

>> Read more trending news 

When asked for his response to a Trump presidency, Legend said: “He’s been consistent about being a racist and about a couple of other things, but he’s also been wildly inconsistent and lied a lot. So we truly don’t know how he’s gonna govern.”

Legend added: “We haven’t seen anyone like him before. It’s a very kind of different world now, knowing that someone’s going to possibly dismantle a lot of what Obama accomplished. I don’t know where we’re going to go.”

Legend went on to say he believes it is his role as an artist to “tell the truth and reflect what’s going on.”

“We just have to be vigilant and get through this, and then hopefully it’ll be over soon,” he said.

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