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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One of the biggest Halloween attractions in New York is the Great Jack-o’-Lantern Blaze, which takes over a historic riverside colonial estate.

More than 7,000 hand carved jack-o’-lanterns are set up in theatrical displays across the sweeping grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor in the village of Croton-on-Hudson.

From giant spider webs made out of pumpkins to dinosaur skeletons and court jesters, a whole array of characters comes to life.

There is even a pumpkin planetarium that lights up beneath the starry sky and an "aquarium" with a giant sea monster that appears to be slithering through the grounds.

This year marks the 11th annual opening of the festival with visitors traveling from around the area to see the spectacle.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Scott Olson/Getty Images(ROSEBURG, Ore.) -- Students at Umpqua Community College went back to school for the first time since a 20-year-old gunman opened fire nearly two weeks ago.

As students headed back on Monday, they were greeted with an emotional reception of hundreds gathered along a road leading up to the school to wave flags and show their support.

In attendance was Oregon Gov. Kate Brown as well as Umpqua Community College President Dr. Rita Cavin.

Snyder Hall, the scene of the shooting where nine were killed and nine injured, is still not open, and some are hoping it will be torn down.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(FORT STEWART, Ga.) -- Fort Benning spokesman Bob Purtiman confirms to ABC News that Major Lisa Jaster has become the third woman to graduate from Ranger School.   She will be one of 88 Rangers who graduate on Friday on a ceremony at Fort Stewart.

The 37 year old mother of two joins Capt. Kristen Griest  and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver 25, who both earned the Ranger tab on Aug. 21.  Like some of her male colleagues Jaster has participated in do-overs of the phases of Ranger School.

The three women were among the 19 that began the course in April as part of a one-time opportunity to participate in the Army’s research to determine how women would be integrated into all units.  Following Griest’s and Haver’s graduation, the Army announced that it would now open up Army Ranger School to female candidates. 

The services have all provided their recommendations as to which combat jobs should remain excluded to women. Only the Marines made a recommendation to continue to exclude women from their combat infantry jobs, the other services and Special Operations Command recommended opening up all of their combat jobs to women. 

The recommendations are currently being reviewed by the Joint Staff and will be forwarded to Defense Secretary Ash Carter who has until the end of the year to decide whether to agree to the exclusions or open up all combat jobs to women.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(MARGATE, N.J.) -- New Jersey icon Lucy the Elephant is in need of a makeover, but not from PETA.

According to a statement released on the National Historic Landmark's website, the Board of Trusteers for Lucy the Elephant passed on a donation offer made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals late last week towards a construction and painting project.

Lucy the Elephant is six stories tall and made out of wood and tin. The tourist attraction sits outside of Atlantic City on the Jersey Shore.

The statement said PETA wanted to donate money towards the project if the elephant could be used to promote awareness for the mistreatment of circus elephants.

PETA had planned to hang a banner from the elephant, attach a foam shackle to a leg, and attach a teardrop below one of the eyes.

Lucy CEO Richard Helfant said, "Lucy is a happy place. We must always insure that children who visit Lucy have a happy experience and leave with smiles on their faces. Anything that could sadden a child is not acceptable here at Lucy."

“While every donation is important to an almost completely self-funded non-profit organization, this one comes with too many conditions," he added. "Lucy is a National Historic Landmark whose mission is historic preservation. We must be diligent in maintaining her stature as an NHL."

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David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  An Alaska Air flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday after a flight attendant’s credit card machine created smoke in the galley.

Alaska Airlines Flight 17 was headed from Newark, N.J. to Seattle, Wash. when a "point of sale device" the flight attendant's use for ordering drinks and meals started smoking in the cabin.

Nancy Trott, a spokeswoman for Alaska Air, claims the device "was not on fire", but the flight attendants used a fire extinguisher to get the device to stop smoking.

The crew said it “looked like the battery was melting,” Trott told ABC News.

The flight attendants then alerted the captain who was able to safely land the plane in Buffalo.

The aircraft was carrying 181 passengers and six crew members, none of which were injured.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(TAMPA, Fla.) — A tornadic waterspout traveling on shore in Florida knocked over and lifted an 18-wheeler in Florida, leaving the driver thankful to be alive.

The incident happened Saturday as Randall Leaver was crossing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge near Tampa in his U.S. Postal Service truck.

The swirling winds of the waterspout — an intense, non-supercell tornado that develops over large bodies of water — knocked the tractor trailer on its side, then back onto its wheels.

“All of a sudden I felt a gust of wind and I thought, 'Is this what I think it is?’” Leaver said. “I’ve never been to Hell. I thought I was in Hell.”

Leaver suffered from minor bumps and bruises, but was otherwise uninjured.

The incident left him humbled, and thankful.

“The first thing I did when I got home; I hugged my son,” he said. “God was definitely watching over me.”


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Crystal Miller(DETROIT) — Each morning LaRethia Haddon makes her coffee, sits in her window and watches as passersby gawk at the prone figure on the lawn of her Detroit home.

Some call the police. Others even approach and attempt to perform CPR — only to discover the figure is a dummy.

Haddon has been pulling the Halloween prank for 20 years, but this time it has really taken off, she told ABC News on Sunday night.

"Oh, it is hilarious," she said of people's reactions. "They do CPR — they turn him over real fast, you know, then they realize it's the dummy. It's hilarious."

Since her husband's birthday falls on Halloween, they celebrate the holiday in a big way in her family.

"And I'm a holiday person. ... I'm just into decorating, you know. So I made a dummy and he does — he really does look lifelike," she said.

The figure is dressed in pants, white sneakers, a dark coat and a shirt with the hood pulled up. After she makes her coffee in the morning, Haddon takes the dummy — she laughed as she revealed that she calls it Derrick, after her husband — and puts it on a new spot on her lawn.

Crystal Miller

Then she sits back, relaxes and prepares to be entertained. Since she lives in a busy area near two schools she doesn't have to wait very long.

"All day I have a stream of people coming by taking pictures of it," she said.

Detroit Police didn't respond to a message from ABC News on Sunday afternoon, but an officer told The Detroit News that the department was "repeatedly called to the area" last week for reports of a man down. They responded to find Haddon's dummy.

Officer Shanelle Williams told The Detroit News that the dummy wasn't illegal but suggested that placing a sign letting people know the figure was a display could help prevent unnecessary concern.

"If we get a call, we are still responding. We can't take the chance," Williams said.

Haddon, 55, says she always alerts emergency services before she pulls her annual prank.

"Every year I let them know, and I've been doing that for like 20 years so it's not like I just throw it out there and here we go," she said.

Haddon said she's been facing some financial trouble recently and the popularity of her display has boosted her spirits. She and her grandchildren put the dummy together every year and the family enjoys the activity, she said.

They're apparently not the only ones.

"I just like to let everyone know that when I made it I didn't mean it with bad intentions, I was just trying to bring a little laughter to the neighborhood and my neighbors and everyone have been coming by and saying just that, 'thank you for bringing a little laughter to the neighborhood,'" she said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York City is the home of the Yankees, the Statue of Liberty and more than 8 million people, many of whom are showcased on the hugely popular blog Humans of New York.

The blog’s creator, Brandon Stanton, has simply walked up to people and asked them permission to photograph them. He also asks them their stories.

He's used this approach to take photos of more than 10,000 strangers in the city and has also published a bestselling book, Humans of New York.

Over the past five years, the blog has transformed from featuring only pictures to also telling stories.

Stanton talked with ABC's Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts about his new book, Humans of New York: Stories.

He explained his fascination with New York, calling the city "amazingly diverse."

"If you're going to exhibit the diversity of the lives and stories on Planet Earth ... I don't think there's any single location that would be easier to do that than New York," he said.

Stanton, 31, is known for his ability to get total strangers to share intimate details of their lives. Instead of using a high-tech recording device, he simply takes notes on his phone.

He says that the first question he asks them is "What is your greatest struggle right now?"

The replies are remarkably candid. People talk in detail about their struggles with money, health, relationships and gender and sexual identity.

Stanton says he believes that their honesty comes from being able to share with someone who doesn't know their story and has no preconceived judgments.

"You know, I think there's something liberating about that," he said.

Stanton's blog has more than 15 million followers — known as the HONY community — on social media.

Because of the blog's large following, Stanton has been able to raise millions of dollars for people and organizations in need.

Stanton said two fundraisers in the past six months have collected more than $4 million.

"I really think that that is a testament to the type of people that follow Humans of New York," he said.

Stanton just returned from spending time in Europe and speaking first-hand with Syrian refugees. His first question to them was to ask them to recount the day they left Syria.

"They would start speaking in Arabic, and they would stop, and then tears would start coming down their face," he said.

Humans of New York: Stories will be released on Tuesday.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Stephan Zabel/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Thanks to the scarcity of the charging stations, electric car drivers in California are sparking fights in a growing trend. The New York Times reports that drivers are cutting each other off for access to the ports, cursing each other out, and even unplugging others' cars to charge their own on the sneak.

Maureen Blanc, the director of the pro-electric Charge Across Town owns an electric BMW. She tells the Times she recently had static with a Tesla driver competing for a charging station. "It’s high time for somebody to tackle the electric-vehicle etiquette problem," she huffed.

There's even a "black market" for the coveted spaces, some drivers admit.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Bridgeport Police Department(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) -- A woman accused of trying to abduct a teenage girl in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has been arrested, nearly one week after the girl bailed out of the suspect's moving car to escape.

The suspect, Towanna Randall, 38, of New Haven, was arrested Saturday night, the Bridgeport Police Department announced on Sunday.

On Oct. 5, a 17-year-old girl was walking to school when a driver pulled up and offered her a ride, police sad.

The driver assaulted the girl in the car, police said.

The teen "bailed out" of the car as it was moving and successfully escaped, police said. The teen wasn't injured, police said.

Randall has been charged with sexual assault, unlawful restraint and reckless endangerment, police said. Her past criminal record includes robbery, larceny and selling hallucinogenic narcotics, according to police.

Randall's bond was set at $100,000. She is expected to appear in court Oct. 13.

Bridgeport Assistant Police Chief James Nardozzi credited Randall's quick arrest "to the talented and hardworking police officers and detectives in the Bridgeport Police Department."

"To make an arrest in this case so quickly really speaks to the around-the-clock efforts of our police force," he said.

It was unclear whether Randall has an attorney.

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ABCNews.com(HOUSTON) -- A Texas law enforcement investigator working on the murder case of a deputy gunned down at a gas station this summer has allegedly admitted to sexual contact with a witness during the investigation, according to court documents obtained by ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston.

Harris County Sheriff's Office homicide investigator Craig Clopton was investigating the slaying of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, who was killed while filling up his patrol car at a gas station near Houston in August. According to court documents obtained by KTRK-TV and provided to ABC News, Clopton admitted to "consensual sexual conduct" with a witness involved in the investigation.

Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said Friday that Clopton was "relieved of duty pending the outcome of our joint investigation with the District Attorney's Office," according to KTRK-TV.

"This investigator's conduct was unethical and inexcusable and does not reflect the core values of the Harris County Sheriff's Office," Hickman said.

The same witness allegedly said in court documents that she had a "romantic relationship" with Goforth for more than a year leading up to his death, KTRK-TV reported, citing two courthouse sources close to the investigation.

Goforth is survived by his wife, Kathleen, who works as a school teacher, and two young children, Goforth's brother-in-law Stephen Allison told ABC News in August.

"He was the rock in that family," Allison said through tears at the time. "The kids loved him."

Kathleen Goforth said in a statement after her husband's death that "He was loyal ... fiercely so. And he was ethical; the right thing to do is what guided his internal compass."

The shooting suspect, Shannon Miles, was arrested on a charge of capital murder shortly after his death. Miles, 30, was scheduled to appear in court in November, according to jail records.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two of the three men who helped stop a gunman on board a Paris-bound train over the summer reunited as one recovered in the hospital after he was stabbed in a late-night confrontation this week.

Army National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos made a trip to Sacramento, California, this weekend to visit his friend Spencer Stone, who has been recovering in the hospital since Thursday.

Skarlatos, who has been in Los Angeles for "Dancing With the Stars," posted an Instagram photo during the visit. The photo shows him leaning over Stone in his hospital bed with the caption: "Saw the hero today."

Stone, a U.S. airman, suffered three stab wounds early Thursday morning and later underwent surgery, said officials. Police said he was out with friends when a fight ended with him being stabbed several times.

Dr. J. Douglas Kirk, the medical director at UC Davis Medical Center where Stone is currently being treated, said he was expected to make a full recovery. Stone was listed in fair condition Friday.

Skarlatos, Stone and Anthony Sadler were all credited with helping stop the gunman on a train in Europe in August.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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KGTV(SAN DIEGO) --  A California mother of four spoke out for the first time after her conviction in the 2012 shooting death of her husband.

In a jailhouse interview with ABC affiliate KGTV-TV in San Diego, Julie Harper, who was found guilty in the murder of her husband Jason Harper, said hearing the verdict was very difficult. Jurors found her guilty of second-degree murder on Thursday.

“Obviously, we were very disappointed with the results and I know my family was very heartbroken just to see what happened," she said.

Harper, 42, never denied that she killed her husband, claiming it was self-defense. Her lawyers said her husband, a popular high school teacher, was abusive.

A judge declared a mistrial last year after a different jury was deadlocked on whether to convict Harper. She and her husband had three children together, and Harper got pregnant by in-vitro fertilization while she awaited her second trial.

Her daughter is now under the care of Harper's father.

“I want to tell all my children that I love them so much," said Harper.

Harper said she plans to appeal for her newborn daughter’s sake.

“I plan to fight and try to appeal as much as possible to be free for her,” said Harper.

Harper's other family members said they believe the district attorney lied during the trial. But the prosecutor told ABC News that her claims simply didn't stand up under the "scrutiny of truth."

"As a prosecutor, my job is to present evidence and allow truth to speak for itself," San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said in a statement. "Julie Harper's claims simply didn't stand up under the scrutiny of truth."

Harper faces up to life in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for November.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Marchers in Washington D.C. mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.

On Saturday, supporters of all different races and from all over celebrated 20 years since the 1995 march with a new march called, "Justice or Else."

One of the speakers was Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who launched the original march.

"We are still trying to get...civil rights," he told the crowd. "While at the same time, we are denied the human right of self-determination."

He also commended the Native Americans in the crowd for wearing their native dress.

"They are not here as some mascot," he said. "They are here because they are the original owners of this part of the earth and we honor them with the honor that they justly do."

Another speaker was District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser who said she would continue to be focused on "growing pathways to the middle class" and finding "productive avenues" for young people as well as men and women coming home from war.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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U.S. Army via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Army officer who presided over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's preliminary hearing last month has recommended that he should not face any jail time or a punitive discharge for charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the sergeant's lawyers said.

According to Bergdahl's defense team, the officer has also recommended that Bergdahl's case should proceed to a lower level court martial that limits a maximum penalty for convictions to a year in prison. A four star general will review the officer’s recommendation and determine how Bergdahl's case will be handled.

Bergdahl's civilian attorney Eugene Fidell confirmed to ABC News that Lt. Col. Mark Visger "recommended that the charges be referred to a special court-martial and that a punitive discharge and confinement would be inappropriate given all the circumstances."

Special Court Martials review cases that would equate to misdemeanors in the civilian system and limit maximum punishments to one year of jail time, a reduction in rank and a bad conduct discharge. Under a general court martial Bergdahl could face a maximum life sentence for the charge of misbehavior before the enemy and five years jail time if convicted of desertion.

Visger’s recommendations have not been made public but a filing released Friday night by Bergdahl’s defense team indicated what Visger had recommended.

In the filing, Lt. Colonel Franklin D. Rosenblatt, Bergdahl’s military attorney wrote, "Given your conclusion -- with which we agree -- about whether confinement or a punitive discharge are warranted, and the factors you cited in support of that conclusion, nonjudicial punishment under Article 15, UCMJ, is the appropriate disposition."

UCMJ refers to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which are regulations for the military’s criminal justice system. Non-judicial punishments can take the form of a reprimand, a reduction in rank or pay or restrictions to base.

Visger presided over Bergdahl’s Article 32 hearing that heard evidence from prosecution and defense witnesses as to whether Bergdahl’s case should go to a court martial.

His recommendation will be reviewed by Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), who is the convening authority in charge of Bergdahl’s case. Abrams will ultimately decide whether the case should go to a court martial and if so whether it should be a general court martial or a special court martial. Under military rules convening authorities can disagree with a recommendation made by Article 32 presiding officers, though it is not a common occurrence.

"As legal action is ongoing, we continue to maintain careful respect for the military-judicial process, the rights of the accused, and ensuring the case's fairness and impartiality," FORSCOM spokesman Paul Boyce said when asked to comment on Visger's recommendation. "We will notify the public and interested news media when further information about this ongoing legal action potentially is available."

During the Article 32 hearing, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who led the exhaustive investigation of Bergdahl’s case, testified that he did not believe Bergdahl deserved jail time if the case went to a court martial and resulted in a conviction.

"I do not believe that there is a jail sentence at the end of this process," Dahl said. "I think it would be inappropriate."

In June 2009, Bergdahl walked away from his unit's remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan and was quickly captured by the Taliban who held him captive for nearly five years. He was freed in May 2014 in a controversial exchange for five Guantanamo detainees who had been Taliban leaders.

Bergdahl did not testify at the Article 32 hearing, but evidence presented at the hearing indicated Bergdahl had left his post in a bid to highlight problems in his unit to a general located 19 miles away.

Dahl described Bergdahl as "young, naive, and inexperienced" and that after five years of captivity "I believe he is remorseful."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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