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Courtesy of Brad Kane(NEW YORK) -- The race is on to find a rare duck who was spotted in Central Park with a piece of plastic stuck between its beak.

Veteran bird watcher Brad Kane took a picture of the female Common Merganser, which is not common to the park, swimming in the park's lake and posted it on Twitter Saturday. Kane noticed what appeared to be either a rubber band or a piece of plastic that was stuck between its beak and neck.

Kane told ABC News this is extremely dangerous for the bird because the plastic prevents it from eating and diving for food.

"It’s almost like a bridle and preventing it from closing its mouth. It’s a fish-eating bird so if it can’t dive it can’t eat," he said. "It's awful. It means it's going through a long and painful suffering."

After Kane's photo went viral, park rangers searched the pond Monday and Tuesday for the duck, but as of Tuesday evening they had found no sign of it.

In the duck's current condition it's still able to fly and swim, according to Megan Moriarty, a spokeswoman for the New York City Parks Department.

"The goal is to rescue the bird, remove the plastic, and transport the animal to the Wild Bird Fund so they can assess its overall health," she said in a statement.

The Parks Department is urging anyone who spots the bird to call park rangers at 212-360-2774.

This weekend, New York state will institute a ban on plastic bags at all grocery stores in an attempt to curb the amount of plastic in the environment. Kane said the ban is beneficial for the city's wildlife and would prevent incidents like this.

"No one likes to see nature suffer, and that is indeed what’s happening to this bird," he said. "It brings home the message of how dangerous plastic is to wildlife."

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Danny Martindale/WireImage/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Welsh singer/songwriter Duffy, best known her 2008 hit, "Mercy," largely disappeared from the spotlight for the past decade, and in a candid Instagram post Tuesday she explained why.

Duffy, whose full name is Aimee Anne Duffy, shared that she was "raped and drugged and held captive over some days," but is "ok and safe now."

She did not share when or where the alleged incidents took place, but said she'd be answering questions in a "spoken interview" in the coming weeks.

A representative for her label did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"The recovery took time. There’s no light way to say it. But I can tell you in the last decade, the thousands and thousands of days I committed to wanting to feel the sunshine in my heart again, the sun does now shine," Duffy wrote. "You wonder why I did not choose to use my voice to express my pain? I did not want to show the world the sadness in my eyes. I asked myself, how can I sing from the heart if it is broken? And slowly it unbroke."

Duffy, 35, last released a studio album, "Endlessly," in 2010. She shared that she decided to go public with her story after finding it "amazing" to discuss it with a journalist who'd reached out.

"You can only imagine the amount of times I thought about writing this. The way I would write it, how I would feel thereafter," she shared. "Well, not entirely sure why now is the right time, and what it is that feels exciting and liberating for me to talk."

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iStock/ThinkstockThe FBI and the NYPD raided the Times Square headquarters of Peter Nygard's fashion company as part of a sex trafficking investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan said.

The searches were conducted Tuesday morning, Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, confirmed to ABC News. He declined to elaborate.

Word of the searches first was reported by The New York Times.

Nygard, 78, has been under investigation after a number of women accused him of sexually assaulting them at his Bahamas estate when they were young teens. Nygard's Bahamas estate has been featured on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

A spokesman for the FBI's New York field office declined to comment.

Searches usually indicate the investigation is in the early stages and not an immediate precursor to criminal charges.

The accusations were detailed in a lawsuit filed earlier this month.

"When Nygard became aware of the investigation into his sex trafficking ring, he resorted to tactics of violence, intimidation, bribery and payoffs to attempt to silence the victims and to continue his scheme," according to the lawsuit.

Nygard, who has denied the allegations, has also been accused of abusive labor practices and tax evasion.

Ken Frydman, a spokesperson for Peter Nygard, told ABC News in a statement, "Nygard welcomes the federal investigation and expects his name to be cleared. He has not been charged, is not in custody and is cooperating with the investigation."

Greg Gutzler and Lisa Haba, attorneys for victims in the ongoing civil lawsuit, said in a statement to ABC News:

"Given Mr. Nygard's pattern of alleged horrific sexual abuse spanning decades and across the world, it is not surprising that he now finds himself under the scrutiny of the FBI. Our focus remains squarely on pursuing justice for the countless victims who have been so viciously harmed by Mr. Nygard and his enablers."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Miriam "Mimi" Haley, who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, said she felt "relief" at the outcome of the trial, which found the disgraced movie mogul guilty of criminal sexual assault and rape in the third degree.

Haley (formerly Haleyi, but she said on the stand she changed her last name), a former production assistant who had worked on Weinstein productions, testified in a New York court that he assaulted her at his apartment in 2006, and the jury found that Weinstein forced a sex act on Haley.

Haley appeared on "Good Morning America" with her attorney, Gloria Allred, Tuesday, discussing what it was like to hear that Weinstein received the two guilty verdicts.

"I just sat down and I started crying," Haley told "GMA," noting she was in a coffee shop when she learned the news. "It was just a huge sense of relief, just a relief that the jury got it, that they believed me and that I was heard. ... I was just grateful that they got it."

Weinstein, 67, was found not guilty of the more serious charges of predatory sexual assault and of rape in the first degree. The charge of rape in the third degree he was found guilty of came from Jessica Mann and came with sentencing guidelines of probation up to four years.

Weinstein pleaded not guilty to all charges and has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Haley had taken the stand during the trial and was cross-examined.

"It was terrifying, but after a lot of thought, I just felt that it was the right thing to do and something that I wanted to follow through with, so that's why I did it," she said.

I also thank all the women that came forward before me that created this environment where I felt safe to speak out.

Haley told "The View" the process has been "really draining and, frankly, terrifying," especially as "it's been dragging on."

"I also thank all the women that came forward before me that created this environment where I felt safe to speak out," she said.

The outcome in the Weinstein case is seen as a landmark moment for other accusers and #MeToo -- a movement against sexual harassment and assault that gained viral attention after allegations against Weinstein were first reported in October 2017 by The New York Times and The New Yorker.

"It gives me hope that we're making progress [with] this verdict," Haley said. "I just feel like we're being educated about the reality of sexual assault and sexual assault victims."

This education includes, she said, the fact that many sexual assault victims "do know their attacker" and "have some sort of relation to that person."

"That brings with it a whole other layer of emotional confusion that you need to process through," she said, adding, "I think we are getting rid of a lot of outdated ideas about these kind of assaults."

While Haley noted the progress the #MeToo movement has made has been "really amazing," she said, "I don't think that we should be telling people, for example like Harvey Weinstein's attorney, 'Don't put yourself in that position.'"

Weinstein's attorney Donna Rotunno said in an interview with The New York Times earlier this month that she has never been a victim of sexual assault, "because I would never put myself in that position."

"I think we should be focusing on, like, 'don't rape people,'" Haley said. "If they come to your house, don't rape them. If they come to your hotel, don't rape them."

She said the focus needs to shift "from constantly victim-blaming" to "the actual person who committed the crime, taking responsibility for their choices."

"The story of Harvey Weinstein is in so many respects the story of a long and unsuccessful fight for any kind of accountability for someone so powerful," Ronan Farrow, one of the journalists who reported on the extensive allegations against Weinstein, told "GMA" Tuesday.

"A lot of the stories have been not just about the allegations but about the tactics used to dodge accountability including in the criminal justice system," he continued.

Weinstein faces up to 29 years behind bars. He is expected to be sentenced next month.

Haley's attorney, Allred, praised her client on "GMA" Tuesday morning, calling her "brave" and "courageous."

"Mimi had to face very intense cross-examination on the stand and she had to take the oath and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God, and then hours and hours of cross-examination," Allred said, adding that she was also proud of her clients Lauren Marie Young and Annabella Sciorra, who both also testified at the trial.

Sciorra accused Weinstein of raping her in the 1990s as part of prosecutor's attempt to prove a pattern of predation. He was ultimately found not guilty of two charges of predatory sexual assault.

"It's a very high burden of proof, guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and she told her truth," Allred said of Sciorra. "She stood in her truth. She refused to be intimidated and she was very authentic and many people said she was an exceptional witness in this courtroom so she did what she had to do and that's what's important."

Allred went on, "This is about the empowerment of women, about women refusing to stand silent when they have been the victims of gender violence and he could face a sentence because of Mimi's courage of 10 to 25 years in prison and then he has to face the L.A. charges so he may never come out of prison."

Haley said she will take the opportunity to speak at Weinstein's sentencing.

"I do intend to do that," she said. "I'll figure out what I'm going to say."

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Plymouth Fire Department(PLYMOUTH, Mass.) -- Another landmark in the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, was vandalized, making it the eighth site in less than a week to be tampered with, officials said.

This time it was the 9/11 memorial, which was found "desecrated by vandals" on Sunday, according to the town's fire department.

The memorial -- a 6-feet-tall granite pillar with the names of those killed in the attacks engraved on it and statutes of a firefighter and police officer standing beside it -- was erected in 2004.

Photos showed the police officer statue at the memorial was knocked over, with his head separated from his body. The statue of the firefighter at the memorial did not appear to be touched.

"They can knock us down, but we will always get back up even stronger," the fire department tweeted, noting that more than 25 firefighters came out to help restore the memorial.

Town manager Melissa Arrighi wrote on Twitter that all signs of vandalism had been erased as of Monday.

Less than a week before it was vandalized, seven other iconic sites in Plymouth, including Plymouth Rock, were defaced.

The rock, Pilgrim Maiden Statue and the National Monument to the Forefathers were all tagged with red paint, officials said. That vandalism has also been removed.

Plymouth police told ABC News at the time they were looking into the incident, but had not yet made any arrests.

ABC News has reached out to Plymouth police for more details, and whether or not police believe the instances are connected.

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Alex Rozier/WFAA(DALLAS) -- A stubborn structure in Dallas, referred to as the city's very own "Leaning Tower," still stands as of Tuesday.

Efforts to demolish the 11-story building started on Feb. 16, however the implosion went awry and only took down some of it. The center of the building, which held the concrete and steel elevator shaft, remained.

It was during that demolition the remaining structure tilted and gained its nickname "The Leaning Tower of Dallas."

New efforts to take the building down began on Monday and are expected to continue in the coming days.

Crews will now use a 5,600 wrecking ball over the next three to four days in an effort to bring it down entirely, according to Lloyd D. Nabors Demolition, LLC. The wrecking ball will be used on the structure from the top down.

Stan Caldwell, an engineer who is not involved with this demolition but has worked in structural engineering for nearly 50 years, said a wrecking ball is the best way to demolish the building.

"Though not very dramatic or speedy, it is a safe approach to bringing down the remaining elevator and stairwell shaft. Safety is even more important this week, given the strong gusty winds," Caldwell told ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA.

In the meantime, developers are encouraging residents to snap a photo with the structure before it comes down.

"The concrete and steel core elevator shaft that survived the demolition is a testament to the same 'built to last' philosophy we will honor in our development," according to a statement from The Central Dallas, the incoming development.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The conviction of Harvey Weinstein busted myths about rape and should encourage more people to report sexual assault, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance told ABC News.

Vance's office successfully prosecuted Weinstein for forcing a sex act on production assistant Miriam "Mimi" Haley and raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann, despite complicated testimony and a lack of forensic evidence. His attorneys have said they will appeal the decision.

"The survivors were believed by the jurors," Vance said. "The case has been very visible and therefore will reach a lot of survivors of sexual assault and hopefully influence them to step forward."

Weinstein was spared the possibility of a life sentence when he was acquitted of predatory sexual assault, based on the testimony of "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra.

Vance said he had no regrets about adding the predatory sex assault charges to the indictment.

"It was bold and courageous of Annabella to testify in this case, and the fact that the jurors did not convict on her count is not a loss," Vance said, noting the 5 to 25 years Weinstein faces when he is sentenced in March.

"The range that he's now facing is significant, particularly given his age," Vance said.

In a statement, Sciorra called her testimony painful but necessary.

"I spoke for myself and with the strength of the eighty plus victims of Harvey Weinstein in my heart. While we hope for continued righteous outcomes that bring absolute justice, we can never regret breaking the silence," Sciorra's statement said.

Weinstein pleaded not guilty to all charges and has claimed any sexual encounters were consensual.

The district attorney told ABC News he hoped the case signaled a new era in the criminal justice system because he said the case shattered "myths" about sexual violence.

"Myths like rape only occurs by someone you don't know or in some dark alley, that rape doesn't occur when someone in the workplace takes advantage of a subordinate," Vance said. "They believed that Miriam Haleyi was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein notwithstanding the fact that she had subsequent communication with his office."

Vance had become the subject of protests after he declined to prosecute Weinstein in 2015 for groping an Italian model, a decision that received fresh criticism when a torrent of women began to accuse Weinstein in 2017.

"We did not know in 2015 all the information that later came about to became known about Harvey Weinstein," Vance told ABC News. "There was a lot of information was available to us that's not made public that would have been very relevant for the trial."

He resisted any suggestion that bringing the current case was meant to absolve the earlier decision or burnish his legacy.

"The outcome here with this conviction is gratifying because I think it validates our decision and our risk, and there was risk in taking this case, but it's not a decision that I made thinking about what people would think of me five, 10, 15 years from now," Vance said. "It just wasn't."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A complex storm system is strengthening in the Heartland and will be moving east over the next two days.

This storm system already brought up to 13 inches of snow with whiteout conditions to Colorado Monday and partially shut down I-70.

As the storm moves east, 17 states are now on alert for heavy snow from Colorado all the way to Maine.
A Winter Storm Watch continues for Chicago and now has been issued for Detroit, which could see the heaviest snow in the region.

Tuesday morning, a couple of low pressure systems are trying to join together and are bringing heavy snow to the western Plains and heavy rain to the Southeast coast.

Later Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, heavy snow will breakout just south of Chicago into central Illinois, northern Indiana and into southern Michigan, roughly from Peoria, Illinois, to South Bend, Indiana and into Detroit.

With the new computer models coming in Tuesday morning, it looks like Chicago will miss most of the snow with Detroit becoming the new target. This could rival the biggest snowstorm of the season for Detroit which was 7.3 inches back in January.

For the Northeast Tuesday, rain will move into the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York City and Boston with snow in western New York and into New England.

By Wednesday night, however, the center of the storm moves into the eastern Great Lakes which should end the snow in the Midwest and bring more heavy rain for the I-95 corridor with heavy snow continuing in western Pennsylvania, northern New York and into northern New England.

Snowfall totals will be the greatest from around Detroit to western New York and into northern New England, where locally 6 to 12 inches of snow is possible.

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Kevin Clark/The The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo asked the Supreme Court to dismiss his appeal on Monday after a change to Virginia state law now makes him eligible for parole.

Malvo, who is serving multiple life sentences for his part in a murderous seven-week rampage that terrorized the nation's capital region, had sought resentencing to take into account his age at the time of the crimes. He was 17 in 2002 when he helped John Allen Muhammad kill 10 and wound three others.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed the measure on Monday, allowing any person sentenced to life as a juvenile and who has served at least 20 years to be considered for early release by a state parole board.

"The new law means that Mr. Malvo -- and other juvenile offenders serving life in Virginia -- will be eligible to be considered for parole after serving 20 years," said Malvo attorney Danielle Spinelli in an email to ABC News.

In a letter to the Court signed by Malvo's attorney and an attorney for the state of Virginia, both sides agreed the case is now moot and should be dismissed. Malvo will retain his sentences and remain behind bars, the letter says.

The Supreme Court in 2012 struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles but allowed judges to use discretion in issuing such a sentence if the defendant is "the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption."

Malvo's case raised the prospect that the justices might further clarify their ruling and open the door for reduced sentences for hundreds of other juvenile offenders.

There are approximately 2,100 Americans serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles, according to The Sentencing Project.

If the court agrees to dismiss the case, those juvenile offenders would not receive the benefit of a potentially sweeping court ruling. Advocates hope that legislation like Virginia's will inspire other states to take steps to revisit life sentences for juveniles.

Malvo, 35, has been serving four life-without-parole sentences in Virginia and six life-without-parole sentences from Maryland. Oral arguments were heard at the Supreme Court in October.

He will be eligible for parole consideration in Virginia in 2022, Spinelli said. The Maryland sentences are unaffected.

"I was a monster," Malvo told the Washington Post in a 2012 interview from behind bars. "If you look up the definition, that's what a monster is. I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people's lives. I did someone else's bidding just because they said so. ... There is no rhyme or reason or sense."

Muhammad was sentenced to death and executed in 2009.

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DanHenson1/iStock(ATLANTA) -- They've done their time behind bars and been on good behavior since their release, but advocates say some of Georgia's 4.2 million former felons are still shackled by their past deeds.

While the state's unemployment rate is around 3.4%, the unemployment rate for residents with criminal records is close to 15%, according to Douglas Ammar, the executive director of the non-profit group the Georgia Justice Project.

"We've run into this issue all of the time, and it's affecting whole communities," he said. "Everyone in Georgia knows someone who was incarcerated and is struggling to find housing or a job."

The issue has become so widespread that elected officials are proposing a major change to its laws that would allow former non-violent felons the right to expunge their record following good behavior. Rep. Mandi Ballinger first introduced the "Second Chance" bill in the Georgia House of Representatives last year and re-introduced it this month, with the support of various district attorney offices, prison reform advocates and other groups.

Ballinger said she personally doesn't know anyone close to her that has a criminal record, but because 40% of the state's population has had a misdemeanor or felony conviction -- a rate that's among the highest in the nation -- everyone is feeling the effects.

"I've heard from many people who say it's happening to their brother or it's happening to their father or it's happening to their wife," Ballinger said. "Having a criminal conviction means you made a mistake. It shouldn't prohibit you from getting gainful employment."

The Georgia Budget Policy Institute found that formerly incarcerated residents lost on average $36,000 in wages last year, which amounted to about $2.6 billion in wasted spending power. Forty states have a criminal record expungement program, including North Carolina and Arkansas, according to the Georgia Justice Project.

Under Georgia's current law, arrests that don't lead to convictions and misdemeanor convictions for minors are the only crimes that can be expunged. The Second Chance bill would allow former prisoners who committed non-violent crimes to send a request to a judge seeking to expunge their record after a certain number of years of good behavior.

People who were convicted of misdemeanors would have to wait at least three years after their release, while those who were convicted of felonies would have to wait at least five years, according to the bill's current language.

The bill exempts several criminal charges including sex crimes, murder and kidnapping, and it allows judges to consider several factors, including victim objections, before making a decision on expungement.

Representatives for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declined to comment on the bill when contacted by ABC News. Ballinger, a Republican, said her colleagues on the other side of the aisle have expressed support for the measure.

She added that several business improvement groups, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, also back the proposal.

"We all like the goal of the bill, which is to get people back on their feet," she said.

Ammar, the Georgia Justice Project director, said that the bill has a way to go as everyone hammers out the details on how it would work, but that he is confident that it will pass. The number of former felons who are looking for jobs will be on the rise over the next couple of years, and the state will lose out if it doesn't' address the issue, he said.

"For the last 30 years, this country has been locking up a huge number of people. That has caught up to us," he said.

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smolaw11/iStock(MILWAUKEE) -- A Wisconsin high school has been hit with a federal lawsuit alleging it is violating the constitutional rights of two students by forbidding them from wearing T-shirts on campus that depict guns in a "non-threatening, non-violent manner."

The lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee federal court by the mothers of two students at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin, who are self-described gun enthusiasts, avid hunters and supporters of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

"An image of a gun on a shirt, you know -- there's a giant leap of faith to get from that to an actual school shooting. I mean, there's just not any correlation between those two," John Monroe, an attorney for the students' mothers, Tara Lloyd and Kimberly Newhouse, told ABC affiliate WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

Monroe said his clients are not seeking any monetary damages, but are requesting a permanent injunction prohibiting the school from barring the students from wearing T-shirts that depict "firearms in a non-violent, non-threatening manner."

Beth Kaminski, the principal of Kettle Moraine High School, is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

On Feb. 19, according to the suit filed on Thursday, Kaminski allegedly had Lloyd's son removed from class and brought to her office because he was wearing a T-shirt bearing the inscription "Wisconsin Carry, Inc." and the gun-rights organization's logo of a handgun partly tucked behind the inscription as if it were a holster.

Kaminski and her associate principal allegedly informed Lloyd's son that the school's dress code "prohibits wearing anything threatening, violent and illegal, such as drugs and alcohol," and told him to cover his T-shirt with his jacket, according to the suit.

On the same day, Newhouse's son was also called to the principal's office and told to cover up his T-shirt, which was inscribed with the words "Pew Professional" and depicted the outline of an AR-15 style rifle, according to the suit. The word "pew" is used to denote the sound made by "real or futuristic firearms when they are discharged," the lawsuit states.

Both students were allegedly told by the principal and associate principal that making them cover up their T-shirts was not a violation of their First Amendment right to free speech, according to the suit.

Kaminski, according to the suit, later followed up in an email to Newhouse, writing, "We do not allow students to wear clothes that depict guns" and told her that her son would not be allowed to wear such clothing to school in the future.

"The shirts are not threatening, violent, or illegal, and they do not depict drugs or alcohol," the lawsuit reads. "The dress code does not provide objective criteria by which plaintiffs can determine what clothing is restricted."

In a statement to WISN, a spokesperson for the Kettle Moraine School District defended Kaminski, saying school officials have "legitimate concerns in preventing school violence."

"Wearing shirts with images of weapons is not an issue of free speech, and it can be respectfully regulated by the District," the spokesperson said.

In 2019, there were back-to-back school shootings in Wisconsin. One of the shootings occurred at a high school just eight miles from Kettle Moraine High School in Waukesha, where on Dec. 3 a school resource officer shot and wounded a 17-year-old student who allegedly pointed a pellet gun at classmate's head.

The other school shooting occurred on Dec. 4 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, about 80 miles from Kettle Moraine High School, where another school resource officer shot and wounded a 16-year-old student who allegedly stabbed him.

Monroe said precedent has already been established in Wisconsin on the issue of whether T-shirts depicting guns are protected under the First Amendment.

In November 2018, Monroe represented Matthew Schoenecker, a student at Markesan High School in Markesan, Wisconsin, who was barred from wearing to school a T-shirt with guns and other weapons spelling out the word love.

Schoenecker filed a federal lawsuit claiming his First Amendment rights were violated. A federal judge rejected the school principal's motion to dismiss the lawsuit and granted the student a preliminary injunction, ruling the student would likely prevail based on the merits of his case against the principal.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 50 years after the end of jungle combat in Vietnam, and decades of hot, sandy battles in the Middle East, the U.S. military has been quietly and urgently preparing for looming potential conflicts in frozen, mountainous terrain.

"Clearly we see the future and our defense of our nation is very critically dependent on our ability to operate in the Arctic," one top commander told Congress this month.

The Pentagon says the nation's top geopolitical rivals -- Russia and China -- merit close attention. Both regularly flaunt their military preparedness in harsh, wintry conditions as they continue to drive deeper into the Arctic toward America's northern frontier.

"We are now in an era of great power competition," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters during a press conference last December.

To meet the threat, Congress late last year approved $30 million in new funding to bolster U.S. military readiness by expanding facilities at the elite Army Mountain Warfare School in northern Vermont.

On a recent visit to the school, ABC News saw firsthand how hundreds of soldiers learn to operate in the most extreme conditions each year and how growing demand for the training has strained available resources.

Soldiers are taught how to lead their units over technically difficult and hazardous terrain, cutting paths through 4 feet of snow up a steep mountain face or scaling a field of boulders in scorching summer heat. They practice laying fixed ropes to traverse narrow ridge lines and rappelling down craggy cliffs.

Cold weather survival skills are a top priority.

"Just surviving the environment is often the hardest part," said Maj. Steven Gagner, the commander of Army Mountain Warfare School.

The school also offers specialized training for mountain sharpshooting and medical evacuations -- skills which recent graduates said had proven valuable on subsequent tours in Afghanistan.

Gagner, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, allowed ABC News to accompany a squad preparing for its final test in the basic mountain course: an 1,100-foot climb through heavy snow, a traverse along a blustery ridge using ropes, and a 50-foot rappel down an icy cliff.

The conditions are so challenging that Army trainers said there are some soldiers who drop out from nearly every course, some by choice but others are told to leave if they can't keep up with the squad.

The school's barracks, built in 1983, are dated and cramped. Drying equipment takes over classrooms, soldiers pack the bunk rooms and hallways and stairwells have become practice stations where clips and knots are bolted to the walls.

Roughly 1,000 service members graduate from courses here each year but demand has soared to 160% of capacity, Gagner said.

Active duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers have all trained at the school since it was founded nearly 40 years ago, along with members of every military branch including the elite Navy SEALs.

Funding for a new facility will increase the number of beds from 64 to 140 and add a separate indoor climbing wall.

Just last year, Esper, then-secretary of the Army, cast a spotlight on the importance of winter mountain training during a visit to the school to climb the ice and meet with instructors.

"Your mission is a unique one that will prove critical in the future. We must be prepared to win the first battles of the next wars no matter what the environment," Esper wrote to the school leadership in a letter after his visit.

In 2017, ABC News saw firsthand how Russia is preparing for its military expansion into the Arctic, staking a claim on tundra that's becoming strategically important due to climate change. China and North Korea regularly publicize similar military winter training exercises in mountainous terrain.

"We train soldiers to fight and win and be more mobile and lethal and survive any environment they come into contact with," Gagner said.

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iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- As a pair of 13-year-old boys await arraignment on murder charges in the deaths of two firefighters who were killed battling an arson blaze that destroyed a rural California town's library, outrage has erupted in the community over state laws barring the prosecution of the juveniles in adult court.

The tragedy has left residents of Porterville, a town of roughly 60,000 in California's Central San Joaquin Valley, grieving over the deaths of Capt. Raymond Figueroa and firefighter Patrick Jones, and angry that the two young suspects could face as little as 10 years in a juvenile facility if convicted.

“Even if we are not big fans of the law, we still have to follow it,” Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said at a news conference announcing the arrests of the juvenile suspects.

The suspects, whose names have not been released, were each charged with murder on Friday for allegedly setting the fire that destroyed the town's 67-year-old library and ended up killing Jones and Figueroa when they rushed inside the burning structure to search for victims.

In an unusual move, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward released a video statement before the charges were even filed to explain the "significant limitation" his office faces in prosecuting the boys in the California juvenile justice system.

"I know it may be frustrating, but 13-year-olds cannot be tried as adults in California, even for crimes such as murder," Ward said in his statement. "I'm certain this information may be met with outrage. This is why myself, and many district attorney's across the state were against these changes to the law."

"When criminal justice reform advocates and legislators consider the mistakes that juveniles often make, I suspect they're talking about shoplifting and beer runs," Ward added. "Nevertheless, justice reform holds consequences and today we may be witnesses to that."

He said legislation signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown not only eliminated the ability to prosecute offenders as old as 15 in adult court, but it also put severe limitations on the punishment that can be doled out.

"In any juvenile case in this state, even if the most serious charges of murder are filed and found to be true, 13-year-olds cannot be held in custody once they reach the age of 25. That is simply the law of Califonia," Ward said. "Not surprisingly, current law drops that age to 23 for many crimes we all consider to be serious and violent."

Ward added that a law that went into effect on Jan. 1 changes the state's felony murder rule to further limit the criminal exposure for suspects of dangerous felonies, who are not the actual killer or who did not act with the intent to kill.

"As we move forward, know this: My office will be dogged in the pursuit of justice for the destruction of the Porterville library and the tragic deaths of two brave firemen," Ward said. "But as we do so, we will be constrained within the parameters of the law and I will also be limited from sharing with you legally enough information."

The deadly fire broke out inside the 18,000-square-foot library around 4:14 p.m. on Feb. 18, officials said.

Jones, 25, and Figueroa, 35, were part of the Engine 71 crew that was first to arrive on the scene as heavy smoke poured from inside the library, officials said. Uncertain that everyone was evacuated, the two firefighters entered the burning building to search for victims. Shortly after they radioed a "mayday" call from inside.

Figueroa was quickly found by a search crew and removed from the burning structure, authorities said. But heavy flames and the collapsing roof of the building forced rescuers to retreat before they could find Jones.

Capt. Figueroa died at a hospital while Jones' body wasn't recovered until early the next morning, officials said.

Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil said investigators were told by witnesses that two boys were seen running from the library as the fire erupted. He said the two suspects were quickly tracked down and arrested.

"Our investigation determined that these two juveniles did start the fire intentionally," Kroutil said.

Kroutil, like prosecutors, said new laws protecting juvenile suspects made the investigation "challenging."

"Once we determined that they were suspects in the crime, there was no more questioning for the juveniles," Kroutil said. "We have to rely on other investigative means to confirm their involvement."

The suspects are being held at a juvenile facility and are expected to be arraigned in juvenile court on March 11.

"In my opinion, if this were 17-year-olds then they would be tried as adults in criminal court and facing extremely lengthy prison terms," Kroutil said. "That's not going to happen in this case. By law, it cannot."

Local residents took to social media to vent their frustrations at the state's criminal justice system.

"These boys should go to jail for life!!! Those boys knew what they did was wrong! No excuses!!" one local resident wrote on the Facebook page of the Visalia Times-Delta newspaper.

Another resident wrote, "They MURDERED 2 people. They are old enough to be held accountable and charged as adults. Period."

Michael Mendoza, national director of the criminal justice reform group #cut50 in Oakland, California, told the Washington Post that while he understands the outrage in Porterville, the laws were changed in California to protect young children.

“We still have the opportunity to intervene in and impact the lives of two 13-year-olds, who are kids,” Mendoza told The Post.

The families of Figueroa, a father of two children, and Jones, who was engaged to be married, released statements on Sunday focusing on how the men lived.

"Patrick was a shining light in this world and will continue to shine down on us from above," the statement released by Jones' family and fiancée reads.

Figueroa's family's statement recalled the captain's motto in life: “I am far from knowing it all, but I am driven to learn it all.”

"Although we are heartbroken, we find comfort knowing he died doing what he loved in the accompaniment of a fellow brother (his Jonesy)," the Figueroa family statement reads. "We are so proud of all he accomplished and he will always be our HERO."

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- More than 1 million people in the U.S. are living in federally-funded housing complexes that inspectors found had fallen short on working smoke detectors, an ABC investigation found.

Three out of four of those complexes were also cited for other issues considered “life threatening,” such as electrical hazards and blocked fire exits.

Many of these apartments and houses are home to elderly and disabled residents.

ABC Owned Television Stations obtained and analyzed data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspections of subsidized housing between 2014 and 2019. ABC found more than 11,000 properties, or 41% of all complexes run by public housing authorities or private landlords who receive taxpayer subsidies, cited for missing, broken or inadequate smoke alarms.

In Chicago, Houston and New York City at least half of all federally-subsidized private buildings, were cited for not ensuring smoke detectors were in place and working.

In New York, federal inspectors failed to meet annual inspection requirements three out of four times. Last year a mother and five of her children died in a fire in a Harlem apartment, where investigators found no working smoke detector. They suspect the alarm had been disabled. Records show federal investigators had not been to the property in more than two years.

Raven Reyes lost family in that fire. She talked to WABC-TV about losing her mother and siblings. “My sister was 10 years old, my sister was six years old, my brother was three years old. My mom was 44 years old [and her] brother was 32 years old."

The Department of Housing and Urban Development rules require owners – whether they are public housing authorities or private landlords who receive federal subsidies -- to install smoke detectors in every home or apartment and perform regular visits to make sure they work. That includes replacing batteries and setting rules to forbid tenants from disabling detectors. Despite knowing about smoke alarms and other safety issues, government inspectors returned for re-inspections months or even years behind schedule. Based on HUD rules, about 90% of complexes with smoke alarm problems were inspected late.

In early February, a fire forced Willie Mae Roberts and other residents at the Greenhill Court Apartments near Philadelphia to evacuate. “I was scared at first because I didn’t know what was going on. I was putting on my clothes, but when I seen that smoke I said, 'Something isn’t good,'” Roberts said in an interview with WPVI. The cause of that fire is under investigation. Data shows that the property has been overdue for an inspection.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who oversees all U.S. public housing authorities, told WTVD that he is taking steps to improve health and safety for all residents in public housing. “When I came to HUD the place was, quite frankly, a mess. There are a lot of things that need to be corrected and they aren’t corrected overnight, but we are making significant progress,” Carson said.

He also blamed a breakdown in the government’s inspection system called the Real Estate Assessment Center, or REAC, for the lack of accountability and repeated failed inspections. “What we did last year is undertake a comprehensive review and we are changing the whole REAC system,” he said. “We have issued warnings to all the public housing authorities and we have increased inspection activity when it comes to smoke detectors.”

HUD rules say tenants are responsible for ensuring smoke alarm batteries are kept in place and informing property owners of any problems with detectors. Preston Prince, executive director of the Fresno [Cal.] Housing Authority, says informing residents of their rights and responsibilities could help get some repairs made faster. “I believe families should know their rights and [how] to make the demands,” he told KFSN. “If something’s not working in their unit, they have a right to speak up and more than to speak up, they have the right to a safe house.”

The federal government posts all of its inspection scores and some details about deficiencies, including smoke detector problems, on HUD's public website and updates the records regularly. ABC reviewed the most recently published data, posted at the end of 2019.

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iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- Kobe Bryant's widow has submitted a wrongful death complaint against the helicopter company that operated the flight that killed her husband, daughter and seven others.

Vanessa Bryant submitted a 72-page complaint for damages Island Express Helicopters, Inc., to the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, court documents show. The court will determine whether to file the complaint once it has been reviewed.

It is unclear how long the review will take before the documents are officially filed.

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Southern California while en route to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy.

The Sikorsky S-76B plunged into a steep hillside in Calabasas, killing everyone on board, including the pilot, Ara Zobayan.

Weather conditions on the day of the crash are one factor being examined by the National Transportation Safety Board's investigators.

In May 2015, Zobayan violated FAA rules by crossing into busy airspace near Los Angeles International Airport, according to a record obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The documents were submitted on the same day a public memorial was being held for Kobe Bryant and Gianna at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Kobe Bryant is survived by his wife and three daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 8 months.

In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Island Express Helicopters, Inc. said, "This was a tragic accident. We will have no comment on the pending litigation."

All services were suspended following the crash, according to a statement posted to the company's website.

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