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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The U.S. Navy has announced that five officers, including two commanders, will face negligent homicide charges connected to separate incidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain that cost 17 sailors their lives.
A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.
The disciplinary actions were decided by Adm. Frank Caldwell and are the latest in a series of moves the Navy has made in the aftermath of the deadly collisions, which investigators concluded were avoidable. It fired several top leaders, including the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, and several other senior commanders in the Pacific.
The Navy said it is filing at least three charges against four officers of the Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer, who was Cmdr. Bryce Benson at the time. Benson suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Yokosuka, Japan. A Navy investigation found that Benson left the ship’s bridge before the collision. Also facing charges are two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade, whose names were not disclosed. The Navy said all four face criminal charges, including negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship.
Fewer officers from the McCain are being charged. The Navy said the ship’s commander at the time, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, is being charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. A chief petty officer, whose name was not disclosed, faces a charge of dereliction of duty.
In a statement, Hicks said the announcement of charges Tuesday is “not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.”
In June, the 7th Fleet notified families of the seven sailors who drowned after a 29,060-ton container ship called the ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald.
The Navy identified the deceased then as Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, Calif.; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.
Divers found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the USS Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision.
Two months later, the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided, killing 10 U.S. sailors.
The deceased in that incident: Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, Amazonia, Mo.; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, El Paso; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Gaithersburg, Md.; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Manchester, Md.; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Suffield, Conn.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Killeen, Tex.; Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Decatur, Ill.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Cherry Hill, N.J.
The Navy dismissed three-star commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin in August after “los[ing] confidence in his ability to command.”
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The person who hit the button that sent an emergency alert warning people living in or visiting Hawaii that a ballistic missile was heading to the island state has been reassigned.
Officials have not named the person responsible, but NBC News reported that the person has a new job that is not connected to the emergency alert system.
USAToday reported that the person at the center of the mistaken alert, and who has been reassigned has worked for the agency for a decade.
“All we will say is that the individual has been temporarily reassigned within our Emergency Operations Center pending the outcome of our internal investigation, and it is currently in a role that does not provide access to the warning system,” Richard Rapoza, a spokesman for Hawaii Emergency Management System told NBC News.
Rapoza did not disclose what the person’s job is.
The worker ran an internal test Saturday and was supposed to select a template that would have kept the message internally. Instead the person chose the template that sends the message to everyone, CNN reported.
The fail-safe for sending a message is a warning that requires the person to confirm the message is to be sent. The person clicked “yes” instead of “no” and sent the message to everyone in Hawaii, including radio and television stations, CNN reported.
Hawaii has been running siren tests since North Korea announced that it has the capability to hit the U.S. with a missile. The tests have been suspended as officials investigate the message that was sent over the weekend. Officials have also set up a new template for false alarms, CNN reported.
Minutes after the alert went out, Hawaiian officials said there was no threat via social media.
But it took nearly 40 minutes for a second alert to be pushed out to devices through the alert system.
Eight years ago, Todd Liebross was scanning the news online when he came across an article about an interesting place in Europe.
Visitors could pay to drive around in tanks. That’s right — tanks. This idea and business really struck a chord with him. It was something he could feasibly do near where he lives in Morganton, Georgia.
Liebross floated the idea to his wife. Initially, she wasn’t in favor of opening a tank driving course, but he asked her to think about it for a month.
He made a deal with her: during that month, he wouldn’t bother her. All she had to do was to casually mention it and float the idea to her friends and coworkers. If after a month, it still didn’t seem like a good idea, they wouldn’t do it.
After a month, the results were overwhelmingly positive, and Liebross was “off to the races.”
After thee years of going through the initial paperwork and insurance, and importing the tanks, Liebross was in business.
It’s been five years now, and Tank Town USA is doing better than ever, especially for a business built almost completely on customers spreading the word. Anyone can visit and drive the 1960s era British APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers). It’s a place built on enjoyment. People come from all over the world to fulfill a dream of driving a tank.
On our trip to Tank Town, we witnessed one person after another smiling ear to ear as they barreled through the mud, toppling over (and through) old cars. (Oh, did we mention that you can crush cars? At Tank Town USA, you absolutely can.)
Over the years, Liebross has added more accouterments, because it’s the little details that make each trip truly special, like spray painting messages on the cars first, or taking a sledgehammer to the windows before you roll over the vehicle with the muddy tracks of the tank. He’s also added the ability to drive an excavator, which is surprisingly more fun and complex than we thought. If that’s not enough to convince you to check out this adult playground, there’s also an old Browning M1919 machine gun.
We had never witnessed a bunch of grown men laughing and giggling as hard as they did after their day at Tank Town USA.
Liebross enjoys the fulfillment that his business brings. He took a risk and broke away from the mold, and it’s paying off. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a lot of hard work over the years, but it’s truly something special watching adults’ faces light up as they fire 300 rounds a minute through a machine gun that was made almost 100 years ago, or as they completely flatten an old car. It’s the truest representation of a Rare Pursuit, and we’re all for it!
A photo of a truck driver who pulled over to stand for a funeral procession for a fellow veteran is going viral.
Facebook user Kristen Collins uploaded the stirring image over the weekend. She’s the granddaughter of Fred Ladage, who recently passed away at 91. He served in the Navy and Navy Reserve during World War II.
When the family went to transport Ladage to his final resting place in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, they encountered Bradley Faulkner on Interstate 70. Faulkner — a truck driver and nine-year veteran who served in Iraq — had stopped his truck, stepped out and put his hand over his heart as their procession passed, according to KSDK. A member of a military family with a grandfather who also served, Faulkner considered it important to stop and stand.
Kristen Collins was moved. She took the picture and posted it to Facebook. She wasn’t ready for what happened next, though.
The photo made the rounds on the internet, and made its way to Faulkner’s wife. They arranged to meet, and Faulkner drove from his home in Missouri to meet Kristen Collins.
“It’s just such an honor to be able to meet the person that made such an impact on us for a moment in time,” Collins said of their meeting.
Faulkner, meanwhile, says the choice to stop that day was an easy one.
"It doesn’t change or alter your life at all to maybe lift up that one family and say, ‘Hey, in your time of need, I’m here for you whether I know you or not,'" he said.
She didn’t seem sure as to why she was getting a full-length mirror for Christmas, but it was what was reflected in the glass that mattered.
On the night before Christmas, a Navy mom got the surprise of her lifetime and the video of her daughter’s homecoming has gone viral with more than 8 million views on Twitter.
The mother, who was not identified by Fox News, was told to stand up, close her eyes and unwrap the mirror.
It then took a moment or two for her to notice her sailor daughter standing behind the couch reflected in the gift. But as soon as she realized what was happening, or rather who was there, she started screaming.
Watch the video below, or click here.
An Army dad who had been serving overseas for a year surprised his 11-year-old son on stage after the sixth-grader’s winter concert Thursday.
Alex Carrion, Jr., who plays the trumpet, had finished his final performance when his father, Alex Carrion, Sr., listening to the concert feet away, entered a side door and walked on stage. The younger Alex sat in disbelief, as his father rushed to him, picked him up and kissed him, the crowd cheering with joy.
“I did not expect this at all. It was a complete surprise, and when it happened, I didn’t really respond at first,” said Alex, Jr., a student at Fitchburg’s Memorial Intermediate School. “It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. I haven’t seen him in so long.”
His father, a sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserve, had been deployed for about a year, serving in Poland and Lithuania in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
At Thursday night’s concert, Sgt. Carrion anxiously paced backstage, eager to embrace his boy after arriving two days earlier. The reunion was worth the wait.
“I could hear him playing, and obviously I just wanted to get to him as soon as possible,” said Sgt. Carrion, who lives in West Springfield. “I’m really excited and can’t wait to spend more time with this little man.”
Sailors now can breathe a little easier now that the U.S. Navy is removing failed physical tests from their service records.
In the past, if sailors failed two PFAs in three years they were discharged from the service.
The PFA consists of two parts, a body composition assessment and a physical readiness test.
The test evaluates sailors on their ability to do pushups, situps and a 1 1/2-mile run, using their ages as a benchmark.
Sailors will also now be required to undergo a body fat analysis when they report to a new command and will be forced pass their PFAs to advance in rank.
Almost 50,000 will be able to remain in the Navy with the new rules as it is trying to increase its end strength by over 4,100 sailors by the end of the fiscal year, the Navy Times reported.
The U.S. Coast Guard is tasked with defending and protecting American interests, but the sailors apparently are there to protect wildlife too.
The crew of the cutter Thetis found a sea turtle that had become trapped by floating bales of cocaine in the eastern Pacific, NBC News reported.
Commander Jose Diaz said the crew of a military plane saw something floating in the sea and alerted his crew.
When the cutter arrived, the sailors found 26 rectangular packages of what they said was cocaine, tied together. They believe it was tossed from what is called a go-fast vessel after the smugglers were in the sites of the authorities, NBC News reported.
The turtle had become tangled in the lines that were wrapped around the animal’s neck and fins.
Diaz said the turtle could have been among the drugs for two days. The turtle was freed and the Coast Guard seized the more than 800 kilos of cocaine, NBC News reported.
A federal grand jury has indicted a Louisiana soldier on charges accusing him of manufacturing a chemical weapon and detonating it in a forest adjacent to Fort Polk, where he was stationed.
Ryan Keith Taylor, 24, of New Llano, Louisiana, is charged with producing, possessing and using a chemical weapon, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
An investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command found that Taylor made a chlorine bomb and detonated it April 12 in Kisatchie National Forest, the news release said.
The Alexandria Town Talk reported that Taylor was detained when he was found at the scene of the explosion, which sent toxic chlorine gas into the air and started a fire. Emergency personnel who responded to the scene had to be treated at Bayne-Jones Army Hospital, on Fort Polk, for chemical exposure, according to KALB in Alexandria.
Investigators who searched Taylor’s car, which was located near a library on the post, said they found chlorine and bomb-making materials in the vehicle. They were not injured but were decontaminated and evaluated at Bayne-Jones as a precaution, KALB reported.
The chlorine found in the vehicle was a commercially available type used to disinfect swimming pools, the news station said.
The New Llano apartment complex where Taylor lived was evacuated as agents conducted a search of his unit. Nothing suspicious was initially found, but a second sweep of the apartment turned up a pipe bomb and other materials, the Town Talk reported.
The pipe bomb was deactivated by a Louisiana State Police hazmat team, Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office officials said at the time.
Taylor, who was on active duty at the time of his arrest, was also indicted in September on a federal child pornography charge after inappropriate material was found on an iPod belonging to him, the newspaper said.
He was due to go to trial on that charge last month, but his lawyer obtained a continuance because of the ongoing federal investigation.
Taylor remains in federal custody, KALB reported. His bail was set at $1.5 million.
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