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Columbus Day 2014: Hero, Villain or Both?

Columbus Day 2014: Hero, Villain or Both?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sailor-explorer Christopher Columbus didn't exactly "discover" America, but the Italian explorer raised and solidified European awareness of the Americas after arriving Oct. 12, 1492, in what would become known as the Bahamas. Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937.Centuries after Columbus traveled to the Americas, his legacy remains complicated. And that's where the Columbus Day debate continues, including periodic calls to dump the holiday, or modify it to something like "Exploration Day."Native-American or Indigenous People’s DayThe United States is hardly alone in celebrating Columbus Day, but even here it's not unanimous.South Dakota, for instance, clearly falls on the other side of the debate, after 25 years ago changing the second Monday in October from Columbus Day to Native American Day in honor of the indigenous people who suffered near-annihilation after Columbus opened doors to the New World.Minneapolis had the same thing in mind in April when it voted to rename the holiday Indigenous People’s Day, as did Seattle two weeks ago. Italian HeritageMany Italian-Americans defend Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage and the generations of Italians who've contributed mightily to U.S. prominence through their work and philanthropy. Of that there's no doubt, although critics, including some Italian-Americans themselves, have pointed out that the Oct. 12, 1492, arrival itself is no representation of the Italian experience. Supporters claim him as a source of pride, however, not unlike other cultures that honor their sons and daughters as pioneers.ColonialismColumbus is an obvious target of scorn and resentment for Native Americans whose fortunes declined precipitously in the aftermath of his journey to the New World. He and his men also brutalized people of the West Indies and enslaved others. Columbus supporters don't deny the mixed legacy, but some of them point out that the national holiday is rooted in the notion that it should serve as an opportunity to bring Italian-Americans, Native-Americans and others together.Columbus, USAThere are 30-plus U.S. cities and townships named Columbus, and apparently little push to rename any of them, suggesting that the debate has long been settled for some people with the closest association to the explorer.

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Two Toddlers Injured in Bounce House Accident

Two Toddlers Injured in Bounce House Accident

iStock/Thinkstock(NASHUA, N.H.) -- Two toddlers were injured, one critically, when they were trapped inside a bounce house at a Halloween festival in New Hampshire that was swept up 30 feet in the air by a gust of wind.The two brothers, 2 and 3 years old, were both hospitalized, with the younger boy in critical condition.The toddlers climbed into the bouncy house while it was in a restricted area of Sullivan Farm, in Nashua, that was supposed to be off limits to the attendees of the festival.Witnesses said they saw the bouncy house fly up in the air before it came crashing down in a neighboring orchard.The 2-year-old boy was airlifted to Tuft's Medical in Boston, and the 3-year-old was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and is expected to be okay."This is so unfortunate, it wasn't meant to be used. I just hope the kids are okay," co-farmer Gary Bergeron told ABC affiliate WMUR-TV in Nashua.He said the bouncy house was only inflated so it would dry out after rains hit the area on Saturday."It was in a restricted area," Bergeron said. "It wasn't open to the public and it was unfortunate, two kids got into it and some wind picked it up and took it away with the kids in it."Nashua Police and Fire, and the State Fire Marshal's Office were investigating the incident.

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Teen Girl Dies After Halloween Hayride Accident in Maine

Teen Girl Dies After Halloween Hayride Accident in Maine

iStock/Thinkstock(MECHANIC FALLS, Maine) -- A teenage girl died and almost two dozen people were hospitalized Saturday night after a Halloween hayride trailer flipped over on a steep road.

Police in Mechanic Falls, Maine say the driver of a jeep pulling the trailer missed a curve, causing the trailer to hit a tree and throw the passengers to the ground.

According to ABC affiliate WCVB, a 17-year-old girl was killed and 22 people were injured.

Local Sheriff Guy Desjardins says driver error appears to be the cause of the crash.

"The vehicle was traveling in this direction coming out of the ride, going downhill around a sharp curve, and he missed the curve and went into the wood line, and it looks like the trailer jackknifed and hit a tree," Desjardins said.

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Dogs Save Woman’s Life After Near-Fatal Fall

Dogs Save Woman’s Life After Near-Fatal Fall

iStock/Thinkstock(PALMDALE, Fla.) -- A Florida woman who suffered a near-fatal fall thanked two guardian angels, her dogs Higgins and Dodger, for saving her life.

Judy Muhe, 76, of Palmdale, Fla., broke her shoulder and bruised her head when she fell in her kitchen. Muhe, who lives by herself and has Parkinson's disease, could not get up on her own and drifted in and out of consciousness for two days.

Muhe told ABC News station KABC-TV that her two golden retrievers, 10-year-old Higgins and 4-year-old Dodger, kept her alive.

"They went for days without food and water. They stayed with me," Muhe said. "By keeping me warm, and keeping me comfortable, as they could, the main thing was they let me know that I was not alone."

Muhe was moved to tears as she recalled how her dogs lay by her side for two days.

"Dodger kept nuzzling me with his nose and he [the second dog] was laying beside me. I don't know what I would have done without them," she said, crying. "I'm sorry. I just love my dogs so much."

Kathy Jacobs, Muhe's friend, used a spare key to get into Muhe's home after no one had heard from her in two days.

"When I came in we found her right away on the floor. The dogs were right here with her," Jacobs said. "They actually ran to the door and then they ran back to where she was, like showing us she was there."

Lying on the floor for two days without food and water could have cost Muhe her life, Jacobs said.

"Because of her injuries and the time she spent laying on the floor and dehydrating, and being with her Parkinson's, we probably would have lost her," she said.

Muhe asked that everybody take good care of their pets, calling her own dogs "angels on four legs."

"My guardians ... I have no doubt they would do it again," she said.

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Men Accused of Stocking Illegal Drugstore With Stolen Merchandise

Men Accused of Stocking Illegal Drugstore With Stolen Merchandise

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Three Pennsylvania men are accused of stealing $50,000 worth of Rite Aid merchandise to sell at an illegally run basement drug store, according to police.According to a report from the Falls Township Police Department in Fairless Hills, Pa., Edwin Burgos, Miguel Ortiz, and Juan Agosto were all arrested Thursday after officers allegedly caught them unloading items from a Rite Aid tractor-trailer.Police said the items were being used to stock an illegal store in the basement of a Philadelphia home."The detectives were amazed at the sophistication of the operation," Lt Henry Ward, of the Fairless Hills Police told ABC News station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. Ward told WPVI-TV that investigators believe Agosto, 36, and Burgos, 36, allegedly had a deal with Ortiz, 40, who drove the Rite Aid truck.Police said Agosto is the alleged operator of the fake store and that a loss prevention officer was the one who saw the men allegedly transfer items out of the truck. They also said investigators believe Ortiz paid approximately $400 for $2,000 to $3,000 worth of Rite Aid merchandise.At the home where the merchandise was allegedly sold, Burgos had installed an extensive surveillance system, according to police."You can see in some of the photos that he had better surveillance than probably Rite Aid pharmacies have in their own stores," Ward told WPVI-TV. "He had video cameras everywhere so he could see everything that was going on in the basement from upstairs in the house."The extensive surveillance system also means that anyone who was at the fake store or involved with running the store were likely caught on camera, according to Ward."It was very nice of them to get great surveillance tapes," Ward told WPVI-TV. "Now we have them so, we'll see who was in there, who was moving around."

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Arrest Made in California Boles Fire

Arrest Made in California Boles Fire

iStock/Thinkstock(WEED, Calif.) -- A California man has been arrested and charged with arson on suspicion of starting a fire that eventually destroyed 150 homes in the Northern California town of Weed, police said.

Ronald Beau Marshall, 24, of Weed, was arrested this morning and taken to Siskiyou County Jail, the Weed Police Department said in a statement.

He was held on $250,000 bail.

The fire began on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 15, in an area of south of Mount Shasta in Northern California.

It spread quickly and became known as the Boles Fire, destroying 150 homes and eight businesses.

Weed City Councilor Stacey Green told ABC News affiliate KDRV he is "ecstatic" that an arrest has been made, and that the community will be on "pins and needles" awaiting the result for the court process.

He added that the community continues to recover and is heartened by the way they have come together.

Police said that although Marshall was arrested, the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.

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Possible Second Case of Ebola Reported in Dallas

Possible Second Case of Ebola Reported in Dallas

(DALLAS) -- Preliminary tests have indicated that an employee of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has contracted Ebola. 

The worker remains unidentified and further tests will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. 

Pending confirmation, this would be the first case of Ebola contracted on American soil. 

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CA Woman Convicted of Murder Exonerated After 17 Years in Prison

CA Woman Convicted of Murder Exonerated After 17 Years in Prison

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A California woman convicted of murder for the death of her ex-boyfriend was freed Friday after 17 years in prison. A Los Angeles judge overturned Susan Mellen's conviction, saying she is innocent and was failed by the justice system. Mellen received a life sentence without the possibility of parole following the 1997 incident in which the victim was bludgeoned, set on fire, and dumped in an alley. "I had a counselor tell me one time I was never going to go home that I was going to go home in a pine box," Mellen said.Her fight for freedom was led by organization Innocence Matters, which works to free wrongfully convicted individuals. "I've always forgave my enemies. Even your haters you have to forgive them and sometimes you have to thank them because they bring you closer to God," Mellen said.

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Man Throws Smoke Bomb at Diners and Escapes Through Subway Hatch

Man Throws Smoke Bomb at Diners and Escapes Through Subway Hatch

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police in New York were searching Saturday for a man who popped up from a sidewalk subway hatch and lobbed a smoke bomb at a pair of restaurants, sending diners scrambling.The man was captured on video emerging from a hatch used for emergency exits from the New York subway system. The hatches are used by emergency responders to evacuate riders from the subway if necessary.On security video, diners were seen fleeing their tables as smoke started to overtake the outdoor eating areas for the Da Silvano restaurant and the Bar Pitti restaurant. According to the New York Police Department, no one was injured.One of those at the restaurant was actress Rose McGowan, who tweeted about her experience shortly after the smoke cleared.

Someone just threw two red smoke bombs into the restaurant I was eating in. Eyes are burning. #NYCWHAT

— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 10, 2014

Police said they were looking for a white male approximately 20 years old with blond wavy hair.While diners were unharmed, at least one expert said law enforcement should be concerned that the man was able to both exit and enter the emergency subway gate without being captured.Former FBI agent Brad Garrett said the event could be a good learning experience for authorities to understand how emergency services might respond in a similar attack.

"It's clearly a wake-up call," said Garrett, an ABC News contributor. "When you get into a city of the size of New York or even just the one borough of Manhattan, you literally cannot cover every single avenue. You do the best you can and try to learn from every situation and figure out where you have a vulnerability."The New York Police Department Public Information Office told ABC News they had no updates on the case or whether added security will be used to protect subway emergency exits.

Staff at both Bar Pitti and Da Silvanos declined to discuss the incident.

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Ebola Screenings Begin at US Airports

Ebola Screenings Begin at US Airports

Donna Burton/US Customs and Border Protection(NEW YORK) -- Ebola virus screening for flight passengers arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York began Saturday, with officials processing travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat the spread of the virus. Individuals who may show signs of the disease will be identified, isolated, and quickly referred to medical personnel, officials said Saturday. Screening is also expected to begin at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dulles International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Newark International Airport to encompass more than 94 percent of travelers from the affected regions entering the United States. Passengers will be taken to a private area to complete a CDC questionnaire, followed by medical staff taking their temperature. If the traveler has a fever, symptoms of the virus, or has been exposed to Ebola, they will be referred for a public health assessment. "The expanded screening measures provide this layer of protection for the already established protocols to minimize the risk of another case of Ebola here in the United States," said Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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‘Ferguson October’ Demonstrators Rally Against Police Brutality in St. Louis

‘Ferguson October’ Demonstrators Rally Against Police Brutality in St. Louis

Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- Thousands of demonstrators gathered in St. Louis this weekend as part of growing civil rights protests against police brutality. Police shut down streets as participants chanted, sang, and gave marching orders to crowds. The protests coincide with high-profile sporting events this weekend as the St. Louis Cardinals are playing post-season baseball and the city hosts Monday Night Football. Law enforcement officials say they are committed to keeping the streets safe but are aware that both events are magnets for demonstrators. Fatal police-involved shootings have stoked racial tensions in the area, following the August death of unarmed teen Michael Brown and the most recent death of Vonderrit Deondre Myers, another 18-year-old black teen who authorities say was armed. "We all fighting for the same reason, we all here for the same cause...we're trying to get justice and we're tired and we're fed up with the police brutality with what's going on," one protester said. Saturday's march is expected to end at the historic courthouse in St. Louis, famous for when Dred Scott fought for his rights in 1857.

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Seven NJ High School Football Players Charged in Hazing

Seven NJ High School Football Players Charged in Hazing

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SAYREVILLE, N.J.) -- Seven members of the Sayreville, New Jersey, War Memorial High School football team were charged Friday night on multiple counts including aggravated sexual assault stemming from alleged attacks on younger players on the team, prosecutors said."The six juveniles, ranging in age from 15 to 17 years old, are being detained by law enforcement authorities pending a Family Court decision on whether the youths will be held at a detention facility pending a court hearing, or will be released to the custody of their parents or guardians pending the hearing," Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said in a statement. A seventh boy was still being sought in the case.The teens are accused of attacking four victims in four separate incidents, according to the statement. The superintendent of schools canceled the football season after reports of harassment of younger team members.Under state law, complaints against juveniles are sealed. The identities of the boys are being withheld because of their ages, prosecutors said. The teens could face adult charges but that decision has not been made, an official told ABC News.Three of the juveniles are charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint, and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims, according to the statement. Charges against the others include aggravated assault, conspiracy, aggravated criminal sexual contact, hazing and riot by participating in the attack of the remaining victims."The complaints charge that on various dates between September 19, 2014 and September 29, 2014, one or more of the juvenile defendants either held the victims against their will, while other juvenile defendants improperly touched the juvenile victims in a sexual manner," the statement read. One of the juvenile victims was kicked during an attack.The Sayreville Board of Education said in a statement that it "takes this matter extremely seriously and thus will continue to make the safety and welfare of our students, particularly the victims of these horrendous alleged acts, our highest priority. The district administration has already launched a holistic harassment intimidation and bullying (HIB) investigation of all athletic and extracurricular programs in order to ensure that we take all steps necessary now and in the future to protect all our students."In the ensuing days, weeks, and months, we will come together as a school district and greater community to harness the strength required to support the young men who may have been victimized and then to begin the healing process for our beloved community," according to the statement released Friday.Sayreville school district Superintendent Richard Labbe earlier this week praised the players who came forward to report the alleged abuse: “There was one or two courageous kids that stepped up and did the right thing and prevented one less child from being harassed, intimidated and bullied. And to me, those are the true heroes of this. And we need more heroes like this.”In an interview with ABC News, Labbe said he was overwhelmed with “horror” when he first heard what was going on behind closed doors at his district’s high school. And he vowed that the proud football program in his community would be rebuilt--the right way. But Labbe insisted he realizes that the wounds of the last days are still raw, and he certainly recognizes there are pockets of hostility directed toward him and the school board that backed him up during a heated session Tuesday night.“I understand how the seniors feel not to have that last game, not to walk out on the field for the last time with their mom and dad,” Labbe explained. “But based up on the information I received, the right decision that I knew in my heart was to make the one we made.”On Monday, Labbe canceled the entire football season for Sayreville War Memorial High School after reports of bullying and physical intimidation, with sexual overtones, were reported to the police and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. The authorities are now investigating.Before Labbe’s move, Sayreville football had been known for simply being among the elite of the Garden State’s scholastic athletics programs. Now, the district has to rebuild.“Not only are we going to rebuild the image of this school district, the image of this high school, the image of this football team,” Labbe said. “But we are going to extend beyond that. We are going to become a very, very special place and that march toward getting people to take a stance is very important.”

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Remains of Texas Ebola Patients Cremated, Texas Dept. of Health Confirms

Remains of Texas Ebola Patients Cremated, Texas Dept. of Health Confirms

Will Montgomery(DALLAS) -- The remains of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Dallas Ebola patient who passed away at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, were cremated on Friday.Duncan died on Wednesday, according to hospital officials. He had initially gone to the hospital's emergency room on Sept. 26, but left the same day. He was then brought back to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28 in an ambulance and was admitted and kept in an isolation unit.The hospital released a statement on Wednesday that his body would be enclosed in two bags, which were to be disinfected and cremated. A family spokesperson said the ashes will be given to Duncan's son.Four of Duncan's relatives are being monitored for the deadly disease and are in isolation. The family is waiting until after his girlfriend Louise Troh's incubation period ends to hold a funeral service. Troh, who is referred to as Duncan's wife by his family, currently has no symptoms of Ebola.

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American Hostage’s Mother Gives Emotional Speech at Islamic Center

American Hostage’s Mother Gives Emotional Speech at Islamic Center

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images(PLAINFIELD, Ind.) -- Dressed in a white headscarf and pausing to compose herself from time to time, the mother of the latest American hostage to be threatened by ISIS spoke Friday at an Islamic Center, saying she’s “proud” of her son.“His work has cast a huge footprint,” Paula Kassig said of her son Peter, who changed his name to Abdul-Rahman when he converted to Islam in captivity. “He has also left a footprint on the hearts of those who knew him in his youth here.”Paula Kassig spoke at the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield, Indiana, not far from where her son grew up. In her speech, she read a letter from a boyhood friend of Kassig’s, saying she hoped somehow the words would make it to his ears.“We have been told by some of the released captives that they get news inadvertently, shared by the jailers,” Paula Kassig said. “It may involve a slap to the face and a little bit of punishment when they get this news, but they say it’s well worth it."Kassig was kidnapped in Syria in October 2013, almost exactly a year before he was first revealed to be in ISIS captivity, appearing at the end of a video allegedly depicting the execution of British aid worker Alan Henning. When he was grabbed, Kassig had been working for Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), an NGO he had founded in 2012.Prior to founding SERA, Kassig served as a U.S. Army Ranger in the Iraq War. According to military records, he was honorably discharged for medical reasons in 2007.Ed and Paula Kassig have reached out to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on social media, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Over the course of their campaign, the Kassigs have described their son as a devout Muslim and have appealed to his captors in English as well as Arabic.“Our son’s journey culminated in him embracing Islam,” Ed Kassig says in their English appeal. “Sadly, he was taken captive and not free to continue his life’s work serving the people of the region.”Speaking to the BBC Wednesday, Kassig’s former cellmate, French journalist Nicolas Henin, said Kassig had already converted to Islam when they first met in captivity.“He introduced himself orally to all the guards as Abdul-Rahman, which was a name that he decided to take right after his conversion,” said Henin.Henin said the aid worker and his cellmates would sometimes practice two additional nightly prayers, as well as regular fasts on Mondays and Thursdays.In addition to Henning, three Western hostages have been killed on camera by ISIS: American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines.In each execution video the next victim is shown, and so far, in each case ISIS has followed through on its threats, despite heart wrenching pleas from the hostages’ loved ones.

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Guardrail Company Accused of Deadly Safety Cover-Up, Fraud

Guardrail Company Accused of Deadly Safety Cover-Up, Fraud

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The company that makes many of the safety guardrails found next to highways across the country will defend itself in court next week against accusations of a massive cover-up and fraud against the U.S. government that the company’s accuser says is linked to dozens of gruesome injuries and deaths.Jury selection begins Monday in Marshall, Texas in a federal suit brought against Trinity Industries of Texas by Joshua Harman, who claims the company defrauded the government when it sought for, and was granted approval to sell its ET-Plus guardrail end terminal to state departments of transportation without disclosing all of the design changes it had made.

Harman claims small but crucial alterations made the device defective, causing severe injuries or deaths to some highway drivers who hit the guardrails in accidents. The federal government has chosen to not participate in this case.The ET-Plus guardrail end terminal was the subject of an ABC News investigation in September, which found Trinity made the design modifications to the device in 2005 but didn’t tell the Federal Highway Administration about all of them at the time. In an internal email obtained by ABC News, a company official calculated one change -- shortening a particular metal part from five inches to four -- would save $2 per guardrail end terminal, or $50,000 a year.Harman says the changes cause the guardrails to “lock up,” rather than retracting and ribboning to absorb the vehicle’s impact. Instead, the guardrail can slice through the car -- and its occupants -- like a spear.Lawsuits filed against Trinity show mangled vehicles with the guardrail pierced through the passenger cabin. Drivers who survived have lost limbs when the guardrail skewered the car. There are reportedly half a million of the devices on state highways today.Harman is seeking damages on behalf of the government in order to recall or replace every modified ET-Plus currently in use -- which could cost Trinity a reported $1 billion.The company has vigorously defended itself against Harman in both court and in the press, calling him an opportunist and a liar. Trinity maintains its popular ET-Plus is safe, has passed crash tests and meets all federal standards.At issue in the federal case is the approval of the ET-Plus by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 2005, which then allowed the device to be included on states' approved purchasing lists.

Upon Harman's discovery in 2012 that changes made seven years before were not disclosed, the FHWA admitted it had approved the device without knowledge of the modifications, but insists Trinity has since proven the ET-Plus meets standards. As a result, the federal body continues to approve it for use by state highway authorities.A spokesperson for the FHWA has told ABC News the agency considers this a "business dispute" between Harman and Trinity Industries.Three states have removed the ET-Plus from the Qualified Products List, or QPL, meaning at least for the time being, they will not purchase new units. Nevada removed the device from its QPL earlier this year, with Massachusetts and Missouri announcing just last month the states would also be launching investigations into whether the end terminal is safe enough to be on its highways.In a previous statement to ABC News, Trinity Industries says, "The Federal Government has confirmed -- time and time again, since October 2012 -- that the current version of the ET-Plus System remains eligible for highway funding reimbursement, and has been continually eligible since September 2005."Joshua Harman is no stranger to Trinity Industries. Harman discovered the ET-Plus changes were not disclosed to the government during the discovery process of a previous patent infringement lawsuit, in which Trinity had sued Harman, accusing him of ripping off the ET-Plus design in order to manufacture and sell a competing product. That case has since settled.The current federal case was originally brought by Harman as a qui tam, or whistleblower lawsuit, on behalf of the U.S. government.

Harman, who spoke to ABC News about the allegations, says Trinity knew the modifications may not pass muster and deliberately and fraudulently withheld knowledge of them from the FHWA. In his federal complaint, he says the company was driven by a desire to cut the manufacturing cost of the end terminal, as well as an opportunity to sell a new ET-Plus each time it was damaged.Trinity denies any of its changes were made to boost profits or would render the ET-Plus not reusable in order to sell more units. The company maintains that since the 5-inch to 4-inch change didn't affect the performance of the ET-Plus, it "did not feel an independent announcement was necessary." As for turning over the required design documentation to the FWHA, Trinity admits it was "inadvertently omitted."Next week will not be the first time the two sides have squared off in the small courthouse in East Texas. The case previously went to trial this summer and ended in a mistrial amid allegations that a top Trinity executive intimidated a potential witness in the case. Trinity has strongly denied those claims.

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Eric Frein Manhunt Prompts Town to Cancel Halloween Festivities

Eric Frein Manhunt Prompts Town to Cancel Halloween Festivities

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(CANADENSIS, Pa.) -- A Pennsylvania town has banned trick-or-treating this year while hundreds of cops search nearby woods for accused cop killer Eric Frein.

The Barrett Township said its annual Halloween parade and 5K Scarecrow Race are canceled indefinitely, and trick-or-treating is banned this year, as the dragnet for Frein is now in its fourth week. The suspect is believed to be hiding out in thick woods near the town."This parade is probably one of the biggest events that the town has every year," Ralph Megliola, chairman of the township's Board of Supervisors, told ABC News Friday. "Everyone looks forward to the parade. Myself and my family personally have been away and cut our vacation short to get home in time for the parade. Thousands of people line the streets."Megliola said that this year would have been the town's 50th anniversary parade. It was scheduled for Oct. 26.The dragnet for Frein has residents of the normally sleepy town in the Pocono Mountains on edge."I'm the father of a 9-year-old," Megliola said. "We do things a little differently now. I'm not so comfortable with him going outside and playing anymore."The manhunt and increased police presence is also hurting tourism and businesses in the Poconos. Frequent road blocks, hunting restrictions and school closures right after the shootings add to the inconvenience."Now we have that question in the back of our mind -- is he here? Where is he?" Megliola added. "Any time you drive through town, it's not uncommon to see 20 to 40 police cars or a helicopter or two or three flying above."Many people worried that Frein could escape during the Halloween activities with the help of disguises or costumes, ABC News affiliate WNEP reported.If he's found before Halloween, Megliola said the town will reconsider its Halloween activities. For now, a "trunk-or-treat" will be held in the parking lot of a Catholic school in a nearby township.Police have been searching the woods, focusing on the border of Pike and Monroe counties, since after the shooting at the Blooming Grove police barracks on Sept. 12. Frein allegedly killed one officer and injured another.

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Child Injured After Falling into Jaguar Pit at Arkansas Zoo

Child Injured After Falling into Jaguar Pit at Arkansas Zoo

Thinkstock(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- A dramatic rescue took place at the Little Rock Zoo Friday morning after a child fell into the jaguar exhibit, zoo officials said.Staffers at the zoo in Arkansas managed to hold off the big cats with fire extinguishers as another employee lowered a ladder into the exhibit and retrieved the child, who officials said was conscious and responding.The child was then handed to the father, according to a statement from the City of Little Rock and zoo officials. Both were taken to the zoo's back entrance, where the child was transferred via ambulance to a nearby hospital.It was not immediately clear what injuries the child sustained from the incident.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital only said in a statement that the child was in critical condition."We respect the wishes of the child’s guardian who asked that the child’s name and any additional information not be shared at this time," the hospital added.

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New York Court Hears Case of ‘Personhood’ for Tommy the Chimp

New York Court Hears Case of ‘Personhood’ for Tommy the Chimp

iStock/Thinkstock(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- In what could be a landmark case in the way chimpanzees are treated under the law, a New York court is deliberating whether chimps are entitled to “legal personhood” under the law.A panel of judges in Albany heard opening arguments Wednesday in the case of Tommy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee who is owned by a man and lives in upstate New York.In the groundbreaking case, the Florida-based Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is asking a court to free Tommy from what they describe as a "small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed" in Gloversville, New York.The group hopes to have Tommy become the first animal in this country declared a person, protected by the same rights as humans.At issue is Tommy's living condition, which NhRP describes as a small cage in a small room. Though Tommy used to live with five other chimps, NhRp says he now lives alone.The group’s founder, Steven Wise, described Tommy Wednesday as a “being” who ought to be freed.“Someone who is an autonomous and self-determining being out to be a legal person who has a right to get out of being held for his entire life inside solitary confinement in a cage,” Wise told reporters outside the courtroom.Tommy’s owner, Pat Lavery, claims he rescued the chimp from an abusive home more than 10 years ago and says Tommy has access to a color TV and receives “enrichment daily.”“He’s got a professionally-built primate area,” Lavery told local ABC News affiliate WTEN-TV. "He's not in a trailer."“He’s a wild, dangerous animal and how can you treat a wild, dangerous animal like a human?” Lavery said.A ruling in the case is expected in four to six weeks, according to WTEN.Wise said he will ask the judge to transfer Tommy to the North American Private Sanctuary Alliance in Wauchula, Florida. Founded in 1993, the 120-acre facility houses 45 great apes, many of them former research animals, according to its website.

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Missing Hiker Turned to Mushrooms, Tree Bark to Survive

Missing Hiker Turned to Mushrooms, Tree Bark to Survive

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A missing hiker was found alive in Washington state after three days in the wilderness, relying on ingenuity to survive.Paula Reuter, 21, along with her dogs, Gracie and Addie, had been missing since Monday, when Reuter lost her way while hiking in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle."She was trapped in a place where there was no way to get out," her mother Isabelle Reuter said.

Paula Reuter faced difficult circumstances, little food and no shelter, wearing a skirt as temperatures plunged into the 40s overnight.Detective Jason Stanley said Reuter relied on clever survival skills."She ate some mushrooms, maybe even ate some tree bark," Stanley said. "She built fires and she was pretty resourceful."Rescuers turned to social media, using an Instagram photo Reuter posted before going missing as a guide. Search crews located her car, and they didn't give up hope.After days of searches, Reuter and her dogs were spotted Thursday by a sheriff's helicopter and airlifted to safety, one by one.Reuter is scratched and bruised, but otherwise fine. Her dogs are OK, too.Friends and relatives were thankful after Reuter's rescue. "We're just happy to have her back," her mother said. "She's our life."

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Solving the Mysterious Death of 58-Foot Whale that Washed Ashore in New York

Solving the Mysterious Death of 58-Foot Whale that Washed Ashore in New York

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Suffolk County park officials have teamed up with the Riverhead Foundation to remove a nearly 60-foot dead whale carcass that washed up at a park in Long Island, New York.The whale washed ashore Thursday morning at Smith Point County Park in Shirley. It is about 58-feet long and is said to be a male finback whale, according to WABC-TV in New York City.The animal had been dead for some time, the station reported. A cause of death has not yet been determined and officials are working with the foundation to quickly remove the body.Neither the Riverhead Foundation nor Suffolk County park officials immediately responded to ABC News' requests for comment.

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