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Trump to nominate Ben Carson for HUD secretary

President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Ben Carson for secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, transition officials announced in a news release early Monday.

“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities," Trump said in a statement. "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”

>> Read more trending stories

The news release includes the following response from Carson:

“I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration. I feel that I can make a significant contribution, particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”

Jesus statue still standing after wildfire destroys Tennessee home

Not a day goes by that it doesn’t seem like more bad news comes from the ashes of the recent wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While numbers continue to rise, The Associated Press reports that 14 people are dead and 134 injured.

But one sight is giving some residents hope.

>> After wildfires, Dollywood worker finds lone, charred Bible page at park

According to CNN, a television crew was recently on the ground in Sevier County, where several homes burned to the ground. But the crew came across a statue of Jesus still standing among the ruins of a house.

The story touched country music singer Brad Paisley, who recently tweeted a link to the article with the simple words, "Finding some hope within the ashes."

>> Read more trending stories

This wasn't the only heavenly sight amid the rubble. A theme park employee said he found a charred Bible page while cleaning up the mostly spared Dollywood, whose very own Dolly Parton has pledged to financially help the families affected until they can begin to get back on their feet.

WATCH: Military dad shows off twinkle toes with daughter in ballet class

A military dad is showing his true bravery by dancing with his daughter in her ballet class.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Fox News reports that Philip Curry, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, is stationed in the United Kingdom. His daughter, Alison, is taking ballet lessons near Norwich.

>> Read more trending stories

He was brave enough to attend the class with her for the school’s Bring a Family Member to Dance Day last month.

>> Check out the adorable video here

Check out the most popular baby names of 2016

As 2016 nears a close, much in the world seems to have changed; however, baby names have mostly stayed the same. BabyCenter announced its most popular names of 2016, and it bears a lot of resemblance to the lists from years past. As in 2015, Sophia was the most popular name for girls, while Jackson was the most popular name for boys.

Here are the top 10 lists:

Girls1. Sophia2. Emma3. Olivia4. Ava5. Mia6. Isabella7. Riley8. Aria9. Zoe10. Charlotte

» Georgia's favorite name for girls in 2015

» These were the most popular baby names of 2015

» Check out these Georgia kids who have the most popular baby names in the state 

» How the election influenced what parents named their babies

Boys1. Jackson2. Aiden3. Lucas4. Liam5. Noah6. Ethan7. Mason8. Caden9. Oliver10. Elijah

>> For the complete lists, visit BabyCenter

According to the site, which includes lists dating back to 1880, Peyton and Mateo are trending, while Melanie, Luna, Zane and Kai all made their first appearance on the top 100 list. For the first time, Riley has broken into the top 10 at No. 7. Meanwhile, Lily, Emily, Jacob and Logan are all out of the top 10.

Politically, there weren’t any real heavy hitters: Donald came in at No. 672, which is up from No. 749 in 2015. Hillary was at No. 2,864, up from No. 3,876 in 2015 (a 64 percent increase). And in case you were wondering, the most popular names in 1880 were Mary and John.

Check out the most popular baby names of 2016

As 2016 nears a close, much in the world seems to have changed; however, baby names have mostly stayed the same. BabyCenter announced its most popular names of 2016, and it bears a lot of resemblance to the lists from years past. As in 2015, Sophia was the most popular name for girls, while Jackson was the most popular name for boys.

Here are the top 10 lists:

Girls1. Sophia2. Emma3. Olivia4. Ava5. Mia6. Isabella7. Riley8. Aria9. Zoe10. Charlotte

>> Read more trending stories

Boys1. Jackson2. Aiden3. Lucas4. Liam5. Noah6. Ethan7. Mason8. Caden9. Oliver10. Elijah

>> For the complete lists, visit BabyCenter

According to the site, which includes lists dating back to 1880, Peyton and Mateo are trending, while Melanie, Luna, Zane and Kai all made their first appearance on the top 100 list. For the first time, Riley has broken into the top 10 at No. 7. Meanwhile, Lily, Emily, Jacob and Logan are all out of the top 10.

Politically, there weren’t any real heavy hitters: Donald came in at No. 672, which is up from No. 749 in 2015. Hillary was at No. 2,864, up from No. 3,876 in 2015 (a 64 percent increase). And in case you were wondering, the most popular names in 1880 were Mary and John.

Gene Simmons: Celebrities should 'shut their pie-holes' about politics

Gene Simmons has opened up about what he thinks of celebrities endorsing political movements.

Simmons, the co-founder and bassist for the legendary rock band KISS, appeared on Fox Business to speak about the dangers of celebrities getting involved in politics and how he thinks that the only way for a celebrity to affect change in politics is through voting.

>> Watch the clip here

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“Why anybody in the fifth estate would care what a celebrity thinks or otherwise is the height of foolishness,” Simmons said.

“I think celebrities should basically shut their pie-holes and do what they do best.”

Simmons went on to speak of the foolishness of protesting the election when people who protest don’t vote and make excuses for it.

>> Read more trending stories

“I saw some of the great examples of democracy, people actually demonstrating on the street and so on,” Simmons shared. “When a newscaster went up and asked, ‘What are you demonstrating against?’ [protesters answered,] ‘We don’t like our president,’ and then the reporter asked, ‘Did you vote?’ ‘Well, I forgot to tie my shoelaces, the dog ate my homework.'”

Simmons then came out in support of the Electoral College, which he said was created to solve the issue of the popular vote; described himself as “well-read”; and finished by advertising a casino restaurant.

Mike Rowe fires back at critic who called American flag a 'mere symbol'

Last week, former host of “Dirty Jobs” Mike Rowe called schools that refuse to fly the American flag yet are happy to accept federal money hypocritical. He argued that such schools – pointing out Hampshire College, in particular – benefit from taking students’ federal financial aid because it allows them to raise their tuition costs.

>> Trump suggests a year in jail, loss of citizenship for flag burning

One Facebook user was not impressed by his argument, saying, “How did you become so blindly patriotic? First of all, the college you were referencing in your rant about the American flag is a private college and doesn’t receive federal funding. However … the very essence of freedom in this country is our right to speak out against the flag, which is a mere symbol. If you take away that right, then we have lost all freedom.”

Rowe shared her comment on his Facebook page and issued a response, taking issue with her assertion that the flag is just a symbol:

>> See the post here

Off The Wall Susanne McDaniel‎ writes... How did you become so blindly patriotic? First of all, the college you were...Posted by Mike Rowe on Friday, December 2, 2016

But if you really believe our flag is nothing but a “mere symbol,” equally suitable for flying or burning, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable if the people you work with suddenly started coming to the office in pointy white hats fashioned from bedsheets? Would that be a problem for you? Or how about The Rainbow Flag, favored by the LGBTQ community? Would it be OK if people started burning that? If not, why not? I mean, it’s only a symbol, right?

The thing about “mere symbols” Susanne, is that they represent “mere ideas,” and “mere ideas” are the backbone of “mere humanity.” In the case of the flag, we’re talking about ideas that are wrapped into the Constitution – a document that separates us from every other country on the planet.

>> Read more trending stories

Finally, Rowe addressed her claim that Hampshire College – which has restored the American flag to its campus since Rowe’s original post – doesn’t receive any federal money.

As for Hampshire College, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. If you check the link I provided in my original post, you’ll see that several forms of federal funding are readily available to their students. Also, according to their site, you’ll notice that the flag is once again flying at full staff. I’ll take no credit for this, if you offer no blame. Deal?

Photos: 2016 Kennedy Center Honors

Obama honors artistic achievements at Kennedy Center Honors gala

President Barack Obama hosted his final Kennedy Center Honors gala at the White House on Sunday.

>> Read more trending stories

The president and first lady Michelle Obama were introduced after the inductees: actor Al Pacino; gospel singer Mavis Staples; Argentine pianist Martha Argerich; singer-songwriter James Taylor; and Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmidt and Joe Walsh, the surviving members of the Eagles.

The Kennedy Center Honors is in its 39th year. The ceremony will be broadcast Dec. 27 on CBS.

>> PHOTOS: 2016 Kennedy Center Honors

Earlier, at the White House, Obama welcomed the honorees at a reception and said participating in the gala was “one of the perks of the job.”

Former president Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance on stage Sunday to talk about how Taylor’s music resonated with him and the American public in times that tested the nation’s resolve.

“Our nation was reeling from the pain of Vietnam,” Clinton said. “James was there to satisfy our hunger for both intimacy and authenticity.”

The tribute to Pacino included words from Sean Penn and recitations of Shakespeare by Laurence Fishburne and Lily Rabe. Chris O’Donnell and Gabrielle Anwar re-enacted the tango that Pacino danced with Anwar in “Scent of a Woman,” the 1992 movie that won Pacino an Oscar.

Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker performed medleys of Taylor’s music. Yitzhak Perlman played violin and Yuja Wang played piano to honor Argerich.

Staples’ songs were performed by Elle King, Bonnie Raitt and Andra Day.

The Eagles were originally selected to be honored in 2015, but the band decided to wait because of founding member Glenn Frey’s poor health. Frey died on Jan. 18 at age 67. Bob Seger, Vince Gill and Kings of Leon performed the Eagles’ music on Sunday.

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Police: Gun-toting N.C. man wanted to investigate ‘Pizza Gate’

A North Carolina man arrested with an assault rifle at a Washington, D.C., restaurant Sunday told authorities he wanted to investigate for himself an online conspiracy that targeted the establishment in a fake news story, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement.

>> Read more trending stories

Spokeswoman Aquita Brown said police detained the 28-year-old man from Salisbury, North Carolina. The deputy mayor for public safety and justice said on Twitter the suspect has been identified as Edgar Maddison Welch.

“During a post arrest interview this evening, the suspect revealed that he came to the establishment to self-investigate ‘Pizza Gate’ (a fictitious online conspiracy theory),” the Police Department said in a statement.

Police said Welch has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Two firearms were recovered inside the restaurant and an additional weapon was recovered from the suspect's vehicle, police said.

“Pizza Gate” is a name given to the online false news stories begun last month. The false reports alleged that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were involved in a child sex operation at the restaurant, CNN reported. Owner James Alefantis has denied the accusations, but they continue to linger online. Alefantis and employees said they were repeatedly threatened on social media, CNN reported.

When Welch entered the restaurant Sunday he allegedly pointed the rifle in the direction of an employee, who was able to flee and notify authorities, police said. Patrons inside the restaurant rushed out of the building.

Nobody was hurt, police said.

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