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POSTED February 29, 2012 1:14 a.m.

• WYOMING LAWMAKERS SHOOT DOWN “DOOMSDAY” BILL: CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers have shot down the so-called doomsday bill, a proposal that would have resulted in a plan of action in case the federal government collapses.

The bill would have set up a task force to create a strategy for a replacement state currency and a military, complete with an aircraft carrier for the landlocked state. The military amendment was a tongue-in-cheek addition from an opponent who thought the rest of the measure was a waste of time.

Republican state Rep. Kermit Brown says the aircraft carrier plan injected “a little bit of humor into the bill.”

The absurdist provision brought enough attention that the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. David Miller, thinks it killed the proposal.

Miller says the risk of catastrophic government failure is real given the present course in Washington D.C. and Europe.



• NC MAN DRINKS GASOLINE FROM JAR, LIGHTS UP, DIES
: HAVELOCK, N.C. (AP) — Police say a North Carolina man is dead after he accidentally drank from a jar of gasoline and then smoked a cigarette.

Havelock police received a 911 call about 9:55 p.m. Monday after 43-year-old Gary Allen Banning set himself on fire. Banning was transported to UNC Burn Center in Chapel Hill, where he died early Tuesday morning.

City spokeswoman Diane Miller said investigators believe Banning was at a friend’s apartment when he apparently mistook a jar of gasoline sitting by the kitchen sink for a beverage. After taking a gulp, he spit the gas out and got some on his clothes.

Sometime later, investigators say Banning went outside to smoke a cigarette and burst into flame.



• CHICKEN SLAUGHTER ART PROJECT RUFFLES FEATHERS: LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Officials have banned an artist from publicly slaughtering chickens in eastern Kansas, saying the proposed art installation would amount to animal cruelty.

Lawrence’s Assistant City Attorney Chad Sublet said Tuesday that artist Amber Hansen told him she “intends to abide by the city ordinance.” Violating the animal cruelty ordinance could lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. Even keeping the chickens on private land would require her to meet other city codes on animal care.

Sublet said Hansen is considering alternatives to draw attention to the process of slaughtering animals, including a public sculpture.

Through the project, called “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution,” Hansen originally planned to display coops of chickens at locations across Lawrence, where they would be cared for by volunteers. The birds would later be publicly slaughtered by a local farmer and served as a meal.



• 7 ACCUSED OF BILKING $375M FROM MEDICARE, MEDICAID
: DALLAS (AP) — A Texas doctor has been charged with running a massive health fraud care scheme with thousands of fraudulent patients and intermediaries allegedly offering cash, food stamps or free groceries, to bilk Medicare and Medicaid of nearly $375 million.

A federal indictment unsealed Tuesday charges Jacques Roy, a doctor who owned Medistat Group Associates in DeSoto, Texas, and six others in an alleged scheme to bill Medicare for home health services that were not properly billed, not medically necessary or not done.

The scheme was the largest dollar amount by a single doctor uncovered by a task force on Medicare fraud, authorities said.



• MAINE GOP SEN. SNOWE WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION
: PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — In a surprise announcement, moderate GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe said Tuesday she would abandon her campaign for a fourth term — a contest she was expected to win easily — because she is frustrated by a polarized atmosphere in Washington.

The move dealt an immediate blow to Republicans hoping to take control of the Senate in November and gave Democrats new hope of winning the longtime GOP-held seat.

“As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives,” Snowe said in a statement. “I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”

The news came as a surprise to officials in both national parties. Snowe, 65, is in good health and for months had been laying the groundwork for a strong re-election effort, putting together a campaign team, keeping a busy schedule of events in the state and raising campaign money. She had more than $3.3 million in her campaign account at the end of last year, her last campaign finance report showed.

She spent more than a year working to beat back a tea party challenge, shifting her positions to the right in some cases and spending considerable time allaying the concerns of conservatives in Maine.

Snowe earned a reputation as an independent voice in her 33 years in Congress, but was frustrated by the sharp partisanship and gridlock that has come to characterize the upper chamber recently. She was the only Republican who voted for a version of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, joining Democrats and casting a vote for the plan in the Senate Finance Committee. She came under intense criticism from conservatives, even after she voted with the GOP to oppose the final legislation.



• BOY, 13, SENTENCED IN NYC SHOPPING-CART SHOVE: NEW YORK (AP) — A 13-year-old boy who helped send a shopping cart flying onto a woman from a fourth-floor mall walkway was sentenced Tuesday to at least six months in a therapy-oriented boarding school after his mother and lawyer said he was yearning for help.

“Your behavior, from time to time, is completely out of control. But that doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever,” Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee said as she sentenced one of two boys involved in the Oct. 30 shopping-cart stunt, which left the woman temporarily in a coma and prompted discussion about children’s behavior and societal failings.

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